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Gambia: Opposition decries rising inflation, unemployment, low wages

The opposition People’s Democratic Organization for Independence and Socialism (PDOIS), has said “inflation is rising in The Gambia while unemployment and low wages remain.”

“In 1992, Gambia’s debt stock was US$390 million. By 1999, the debt stock reached US$599 million,” the party said in a statement on the occasion of the July 22 coup anniversary.

PDOIS said it wished to disclose that infrastructural development had been premised not on earnings from the productive base of the economy but on loans which are becoming unsustainable and grants which are drying up because of governance issues.

“Consequently, the country has become a highly-indebted poor country,” said Halifa Sallah, Secretary General of PDOIS, at a press briefing on Sunday.

According to PDOIS, by 2003 the national debt rose to US$ 666.06 million while domestic debt stood at US$ 142 million.

Mr. Sallah argued that many people did not know that treasury bills constituted 72 per cent of debt stock at the time and bonds constituted 24 per cent.

Looking into the government pay scale, Mr. Sallah said directors who are ranked on the scale as grade 12, earned less than D7,000 dalasi per month in 2013.

He said the lowest-ranked earners in grade one earned less than D1,000 dalasi per month the same year.

He explained: “If a director purchases two hundred dalasi worth of petrol a day, he or she would be left with less than a D1000 dalasi a month.

He said: “If the government is to address the issue of corruption it must first establish a salaries commission to give fair remuneration. Where it does not have the means it must give incentives in terms of free transport, hospital care and offer housing schemes to compensate low earners.”

In 1999, the ruling Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC) regime claimed that the Gambian youth, most of whom are unskilled constitute 47 per cent of the population.

They argued that providing them with employment is vital to a significant reduction in poverty, PDOIS stated.

It added that the regime promised to introduce the National Youth Policy and Action Plan 1999- 2008, and despite the fact that the labour Act calls for the maintenance of records on employment, the promise was not kept.

“There is no youth policy which links registration of the youth in need of employment, skills development and the employment market,” Sallah said. “PDOIS will put this mechanism into operation to make training relevant and youth employable.”

Sallah further argued that youth unemployment, underemployment and poor earnings “undermine the very fabric of the Gambian family of tomorrow.” “The social ramifications of poverty are too obvious to enumerate,” he stressed

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