By Modou S. Joof
The Gambia Government on Monday announced it has secured an additional funding of $16.88 million (over D557 million) for the completion of the National Assembly (NA) building which is currently under construction.
The building, which is been referred to as “state-of-the-earth” by the Government in Banjul, will accommodate 400 guest, an auditorium for 150 people, offices, committee rooms and a canteen.
An initial $10 million which was budgeted for the construction of the building is not enough, National Assembly Members (NAMs) were told on June 24, before approving an extra US$16.88 million loan agreement brought to them by Finance Minister Abdou Kolley.
Construction of the NA Complex began in 2011. Situated in Banjul, it was initially planned for official opening in 2012.
“…it was realised that the amount of funding secured from the Export-Import (EXIM) Bank of India was grossly inadequate,” the country’s Finance and Economic Affairs Minister said.
Kolley noted that this supplementary funding is also coming from the EXIM Bank as a loan agreement sign in October 2012.
As part of the agreement, EXIM Bank will reimburse 100 per cent of contract value to the Indian exporters, upfront upon the shipment of goods. The loan will be used for financing at least 85 per cent of total contract value through sourcing of goods and services from India.
NAMs in the capital Banjul welcome the new funding and have even urged the contractors to “fast-track” the construction of the building.
We are in full support of the agreement for the additional financing of the completion of the new National Assembly building, the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Fatou Mbaye, said on Monday.
The Majority Leader, Hon. Fabakary Tombong Jatta, said: “This is a testimony to Government’s commitment to democracy, rule of law and good governance.”
Like the NA building project, The Gambia had apparently under budgeted its 2013 Fiscal Year – as an extra D300 million supplementary budget was also approved for the Yahya Jammeh-led Government the same day.
The additional budget approval is the 4th of its kind in the last four years.
In September last year, the Government claimed it under budgeted its 2012 fiscal year and requested for the NA to support its quest to access an additional funding close to D500 million with less than three months to the end of the year.
Also in mid 2011, the NA gave a nod to a supplementary appropriation bill of D219, 800, 000 tabled by ex-Finance Minister Mambury Njie – more than 100 per cent the amount it approved in 2010.
In 2009 and 2010 the Government has taken more than D300, 000, 000 and D100, 000, 000, respectively, upon approval by the country’s National Assembly, also known as the Parliament or Legislature.