By Muhammad Bah
During the National Assembly session at the end of last year (2014), the Select Committee on Lands and Regional Government reported that the revenue base of Area Councils is very small to provide the requisite services to the communities they are supposed to serve.In tabling the report on behalf of the Committee, Hon. Sainey Mbye, the National Assembly Member for Upper Saloum, said the councils have limited resource base as they are not mandated to collect such taxes as those on cattle, car park, hotel and lodges, etc. He said the councils do not also have a tax monitoring mechanism in place to avoid tax evasion which, he added, contributes to narrowing the revenue base.
Hon. Mbye further said they are also face with lack of mobility, lack of gratuity for councilors at the end of their terms, inadequate capacities, among others.
On the Basse Area Council (BAC), he reported that it is over staffed with 200 employees and who are more or less redundant thus resulting in salary arrears. He said there is an outstanding balance of D30 million Dalasi which BAC owed to NAWEC, while it is also claiming that NAWEC too owes it more than 30 million Dalasi.
Hon. Mbye reported that Basse Area Council has not implemented any development project for the last 3 years and that the councilors are not receiving adequate allowances and lack mobility and gratuity.
He reported that Mansakonko Area Council has claimed that they have not received any government subvention and owes NAWEC over 6 million Dalasi. The Council, he added, is also claiming that it is owed D750, 000 by NAWEC. He added that they are informed that the government has defaulted in honoring its rates and demand notes to the Council.
For Brikama Area Council, the Select Committee report has indicated the high nominal roll which some regard as ‘ghost’ workers.
Hon. Mbye said the Brikama Area Council ploughed back 60% of its revenue on waste management.
On Kanifing Municipal council, Hon. Mbye informed the deputies that they spent D2.4 million monthly on street lights and D2 million on waste management. He said the KMC indicated that the Local Government ministry is not furnishing council with new owners of properties to ease tax collection.
Reporting on Banjul City Council, the Select Committee report indicated that 2.8 million Dalasi is spent on school rehabilitation and D2.4 million on market facility.
Concluding on Kuntaur Area Council, the report noted that they are collecting sand and gravel mine dues but some individuals continue to claim ownership of the mines and that tax evasion in the Region is a problem.
Hon. Mbye reported that the forestry department collects council’s dues but is failing to pay their royalties to the Council.
The report was finally adopted by the Committee of the whole House.
UN Committee to review Gambia’s record on children’s rights
GENEVA (8 January 2015) – Gambia’s record on children’s rights will be reviewed by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) on Thursday 15 January in sessions that will be webcast live.
Gambia is one of the 194 states that have ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child and so is required to undergo regular examinations of its record before the Committee of 18 independent experts.
Among the possible issues to be discussed by the CRC and the delegation from the Gambian Government are: setting the legal minimum age of marriage at 18; prohibition of corporal punishment; steps to prevent and eliminate sexual exploitation of children; sanctions and policies to combat and prohibit FGM; eliminating discrimination against children with disabilities; resources allocated to health care for children; provision of free primary education.
The sessions will take place at Palais Wilson in Geneva.