OPINION: Government Can Afford Increment For Low Earners: My Argument
By Lamin Darboe, Leicester, United Kingdom:
I disagree with the inflated assumption that Gambian market is very infantile, irrational, very simplistic thefore does not respond in ways that conform to prevalent economic theory predictably.
It is clear that such assertion does not play with experience. Also there is little economic and statistical data to support such insinuation.
All the above assertions of our economy means our market does respond to external shocks or external variables in the sensible way or in a way that accords with rational economic prediction.
Meaning when the market is supposed to see price rise, it exhibits price fall, do we see this in practice. This is an emotional inference and lack statistics evidence. Gambian economy response to external stimulus in ways that is expected, it may not do so like advance economies do but it does so respond rationally.
I did assert that our economy is much pretty IMPORT driven as we have minuscule manufacturing base hence close to 90% of consumer goods are imported. Therefore rise in international fuel prices, rise in freight or shipping cost, insurance cost, political instability in major poltical hot spots will impact on prices in the Gambia.
The interaction of demand and supply in the world market, and indeed at micro-level will affect prices in our country. Moving to the main contention that salary increment is economically not prudent and can cause inflation, meaning sustained price hike lacked statistical merit.
Take two points in time lets say January 1995 to December 2018. Pick a basket of communities and compare price differential within these two periods, also identify the salary changes within the same period. It will be evident that prices rise did not correlates with salary or wages rises. That means other factors are responsible for price inflation than salary.
Wages for majority of Gambians especially those in the civil service have been relatively stable or even stagnant for many years yet price of basic commodities have increased tremendously. That is a testimony that salary increment may not have been responsible for riggering rise in price of basic commodities.
Personal emoluments which include wages and allowance ( bellow- the-line) expenditure constitute an insignificant percentage of the Gambia government entire expenditure. Infact the most wasteful area which from my experience ministries exploit to their advantage is the above-the-line expenditure which include government running cost, vehicles, building maintenance, government procurement for police and prisons, army, subventions etc. Government could achieve enormous budgetary savings of it exercise internal rationalization to weed out waste. That was what Ammadoy Sanneh realised and started to change travel and transport policy.
Much to our collective disappointment, the same vultures who scavenge on the said above-the-line expenditure to enrich themselves started a fight and got the ear of the president. The president instead of conducting needed reforms as agreed in the MOU, is bent on perpetuating his rule so could not afford to allow any reform policy deem politically unpalatable.
Thus I surmise, our budgetary priorities are misplaced and there is such much waste embedded in our budget that needed to be exshumed.
We cannot punish poor workers for our collective financial mangement failure and indiscipline. I always ask, what do you expect from a worker whose earning cannot help survive half of the month. That person will always be thinking of his family bread while at work.
Something need to be done to alleviate the long suffering of low income earners specially in the civil service.
Common sense dictate that you cannot get the best out of your workers by making them work in an unfavourable conditions. Daily skating on a survival mode, create fodder for corruption, inefficiency and poor quality work.
I for one wish to waddle my oars in a pond of common sense and human decency especially when civil service is concerned.
Gambia government can afford salary increment for low earners, not the president and higher earners at whose dispossal exist many opportunities. The government must summon courage and comduct broad financial reforms as initiated by Mr Sanneh, the former Finance minister.
Leicester, United Kingdom
Editor's note: Views expressed herein are those of the author and does not represent the views of GunjurNewsOnline.