By Omar Bah

The Minister of Finance, Mambury Njie has told lawmakers that the D500 million Covid-19 emergency fund is available and ready for disbursement.

Speaking at the National Assembly during the debate on the extension of state of emergency, Minister Njie however clarified “The entire D500 million is for health and the Covid-19 Emergency Committee will be looking at how we do the disbursement. It is demand-driven and there is below the line account. Right now, before the D500 million, we have disbursed D12 million. They have only spent D11 million.”

“And now there is a request in the Ministry for D60million; this includes the payment of hotels and some imprests for some regional health teams.D100,000 for each of them and we are also making sure that all the procurement, internal auditing, verification is done. As at now, they have not even touched the D500 million,” he said.

He said the ministry is still managing the D21 billion allocated in the national budget.
“We don’t want to expand and we also want to contain the inflation, fiscal deficit. This is a small vulnerable economy and whatever we do, we make sure that fiscal discipline is there.

Otherwise if we have any dislocation, everything will crumble and if I come to you for another supplementary appropriation bill, with another D21 billion, we cannot pay it in the midst of our revenue projection and the projection will go down,” he explained.
He said the country’s projected growth rate of 6.3 percent might go down by 3.3 percent as of Friday morning.

“The revised figure we have was about 2.5 percent and we need to tighten our belts.”“In the event we need to give any compensation package to the vulnerable, out of the total Gambian households 280, 659…If you have to do everything rice, oil and D1000 for each household, it will cost us D800 million. If we do 50% of the household, it will cost us D400 million, 40% is D320 million and 30% will cost us D240 million,” he said.
He said the $10 million grant from the World Bank equaling to D590M is not directly coming to the ministry as initially thought.

“The World Bank will be working closely with the health team to make sure that all the procurement and everything that is agreed here is properly executed,” he said.

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