Saturday, July 13, 2024

News

Gambia Ranks 46th On RSF’s Global Press Freedom Index

The Gambia has nudged its way through the Reporters Without Borders’ global press freedom ladder as the West African nation now ranks 46th in this year’s RSF global press freedom ranking.
Exactly this time last year, RSF ranked The Gambia 50th in its world press freedom ranking.
Meanwhile, The Gambia has been ranked 5th in Africa by the international NGO as it marked World Press Freedom Day.
World Press Freedom Day is celebrated annually to promote freedom of expression and freedom of the press.
It also serves as a reminder to all governments to respect their commitment to freedom of the press.
The day also serves as a poignant reminder and special occasion for all media personnel to ensure press freedom and professionalism in their work.
“I would like to congratulate all Gambian journalists for work well done,” acknowledged RSF’s Banjul Rep. Pap Saine.
“The Gambia has made a significant progress in the world ranking,”Mr. Saine recognized.

Gambian Writers Call For Infusion Of Indigenous Languages In School System

Gambian writers have called for the streamlining of indigenous languages in the school system at
a time when some indigenous languages in the country continue to be threatened by extinction.
The Gambia has already acquired funds from the African Union(AU) for the creation of a national language policy document to promote the teaching and use of indigenous languages.
Gambian writers and authors last week met at the Alliance Franco-Gambienne to celebrate the World Book and Copyrights Day.
This year’s commemoration was themed Preserving Our Indigenous Languages.
The international book and copyright day is commemorated annually to celebrate and hail the valuable role of writers in the global community.

Gambia’s Higher Education Minister In Turkey To Lobby Scholarship Packages

The Gambia’s minister of higher education has arrived in Istanbul, Turkey where he was expected to hold vital discussions with Turkish education authorities on issues of extreme significance to possibilities of Gambians obtaining post-graduate degrees in Turkey.
Prof. Pierre Gomez travelled to Istanbul on the invitation of the Higher Education Commission of Turkey and the higher education minister and delegation were scheduled to meet the Turkish higher education minister and hold discussions with Istanbul University’s authorities.
“I’m here with my delegation to see how best we can have collaboration. Scholarship, for that matter, and develop the capacity building strategy, “Prof. Gomez told Coffee Time With Peter Gomez on the line from Istanbul on Tuesday.
He pointed out that The Gambia was keen on sending post-graduates students to Turkey to read.
“Remember, we’re giving out scholarships. We said based on our bilaterals and Turkey is one of them so that we can get scholarship for our students for post-graduate training,”Prof. Gomez disclosed.

Foreign Exchange Bureaux Will Not Down Tools Wednesday

5. Forex bureaux strike averted

The threat of a nationwide strike declared by foreign exchange bureaux in The Gambia has been contained.
Foreign exchange dealers last week issued a warning to close shop tomorrow following the introduction of a new reference rate by the Central Bank of The Gambia.
The dealers said the reference rate has been eroding the profitability of their businesses.
“So, the reference rate was set with a spread and unfortunately that spread did not consider the profitability of bureaux,” a leading member of the Association of Foreign Exchange Bureaux in The Gambia(ALFOBS), Momodou Muhammed Jagana, explained to Coffee Time With Peter Gomez on Tuesday.
He continued:”And, some of the banks misinterpreted the intent of the central bank. They were effectively buying the forex from the bureaux based on what we pay to customers. So, it was starting to cause losses.”
Mr.Jagana also the Country Director of JFin Money Transfer and CEO of Kuringho money services, stated that the new reference rate has started to pose challenges to members of ALFOBS in terms of pricing and services they provide.
He,however, informed Coffee Time that a silver lining has already appeared in the dark cloud hanging over the reference rate issue.
Jagana, who’s currently the vice president of ALFOBS, explained:”The governor reacted very swiftly and called us for an emergency meeting on Friday. We had a detailed discussion on the challenges we face as citizens and also as employers and contributors to tax in this economy. He(governor) was very helpful and supportive and we came up with an amicable solution.”

Inherited Open-Access Artisanal Fisheries Policy Blamed For Thousands Of Dead Fish On Gambian Shores

The Barrow administration has inherited an open-access fishing policy in the Gambia’s artisanal fisheries sector but an FAO staff has called for a strong governance of the Gambia’s territorial waters as he blamed the recent washing ashore of thousands of dead fish on the inherited legislation.
Currently, artisanal and industrial fishing are the only type of fishing practiced in The Gambia but while the latter is being governed by strong regulations, the former is free-for-all.
FAO staff and marine biologist Lamin Komma this week told Coffee Time With Peter Gomez that open access is the single-most problem in Gambia’s artisanal fisheries management and it was at the root of the recent washing ashore of the thousands of dead fish in the coastal settlements of Gunjur and Sanyang.
“So, open access is the greatest single problem in which no individual has the exclusive right, if I may use that term,” Mr. Komma, who also worked with the Gambia Environment Agency(NEA) for over 20 years, explained.
He went on:”So, each individual is motivated to compete for the maximum share of the common resources out there with little incentive to practice conservation. Also, this type of fishing…it’s shared stock. And,it’s the same species you see in Mauritanian waters, Senegalese waters…in other waters. So if we want to conserve our fish,it does not tell well.So, everybody exploits and you sit at the joint-table and talk about conservation.”
He pointed out that the open access framework led to the foreign domination of the Gambia’s artisanal fisheries sector and one of the ramifications of this was the washing ashore of thousands of dead fish on Gambian beaches of-late.
“Our waters are all dominated by foreign nationals,most of them,Senegalese.Go to the landing sites, you will count the Gambian fishermen there. All of them are foreigners,” he explained.
The marine biologist further explained:”They will leave their countries,come with boats,come fish in our waters, sell the product number one to the fish processing establishments.So when it’s okay, the remaining is sold to Banabanas(fishmongers) for our daily consumption. And in most cases, there are leftovers which could not be sold. So, these fishermen would either discard or dump these unsold products in the sea instead of returning home with them.”
Mr. Komma pointed out that since bonga and sardinella were the only fish species washed on the shores of Gunjur and Sanyang, the fish flotsam was the result of the open access policy in the artisanal fisheries sector.
“Here, the artisanal boats that we normally see out there normally do not have the capacity to carry ice on board. And it’s obvious that the unsold fish product they have will begin to deteriorate,”he stated.
“This justify that before they reach their destination, they will dump whatever fish they have in their boats. And is this fish that is washed on shore because whatever you throw in waters, the waters don’t need it. It comes back to us. So, you can see that from Gunjur…Sanyang and all other places,it’s only single species of fish washed:bonga and Sardinella,”he added.
The FAO staff called for a revisit of the open-access policy in the artisanal fisheries sector.

GAFNA Boss Prays For Sufficient Rainfall To Enable Asylum Seekers Realize Bumper Harvests

The Gambia Food and Nutrition Association’s boss has exhorted for adequate rainfall to enable asylum seekers realize bumper harvests this farming season.
GAFNA and UNHCR last Wednesday presented seeds, farming equipment and six donkeys to asylum seekers and their hosts in the Gambian border villages of Urpart, Jakine and Janack as seasonal rains were anticipated in The Gambia in few weeks’ time.
The asylum seekers were uprooted from their homes sometime last year following clashes between the Senegalese security forces and Casamance separatists along the Gambia/Senegal border.
Since then, many of them were unable to return home as the volatility of the situation remained. The asylum seekers were since reliant on aid agencies and their hosts for almost everything.
To ensure self-reliance among the asylum-seeker community and to provide a coping mechanism for the hosts, GAFNA through its main partner-UNHCR- this week injected D1. 5m into the host communities in the form of seeds, donkeys and farming equipment.
“We want you to put it(support) into good use so that come June and July,we’ll see farms around. We pray that you have enough rainfall so that the farms would flourish. And then, we get a bumper harvest from them,”Executive Director of GAFNA, Mr. Yusupha Gomez,stated as he spoke at the presentation of the gifts.

the restive neighbouring southern Senega

Gambian Students Evacuated From Khartoum

Gambian students have been evacuated from the beleaguered Sudanese capital, Khartoum, announced the Gambia’s umbrella student body in Sudan.
The Confederation of Gambian Students’ Unions Abroad (COGSUA)said the students were evacuated on April, the 25th and that they arrived at Port Sudan after a 15-hour bus trip.
“Upon arrival at Port Sudan, we were lodged in a house where all the students are together,” the body quoted the students as saying.
Their rescue from the violence-ridden Khartoum was made possible through the intervention of Banjul in conjunction with the Gambia’s consulate in Jeddah and with support and collaboration of the Gambia Students’ Union in Sudan and Confederation of Gambian Students’ Unions Abroad(COGSUA).
According to COGSUA, it was in receipt of reports that the students had boarded a ferry on Wednesday night via Red Sea to Jeddah.
“And it is from there that they shall board a flight to Banjul,”it reported.
COGSUA quoted the foreign affairs secretary of the Gambia Students’ Union in Sudan Baseedy Trawally as saying:”We continue to thank the Gambia Government for their intervention.”
It reported that the evacuated students were on their way home.
“We would be following their journey and give relevant updates if necessary. And we would like to thank the Gambia Government for their laudable and unflinching support to the Gambian students abroad as well as everyone who participated in getting our brothers and sisters to safety,”stated a press release from the Office of PRO of COGSUA.

Prof. Gomez Upbeat Loan Scheme Could Consign Out-Of-Pocket Uni. Education To History

Gambia’s minister of higher education has expressed the optimism that the proposed student loan scheme will enable Gambians acquire university education without having to dig deep into their pockets.
Stakeholders have already begun a three-day meeting in The Gambia to review three milestone draft bills for the enhancement of services within the higher education system.
One of these draft bills under review is the student loan scheme bill, innovatively designed, according to Prof. Gomez, to reinforce government’s existing scholarship drive and to ensure sustainability of the project.
“Less than two years ago, we paid the University of The Gambia their arrears.. D150m. Three months ago, we paid them another D30m. We owe them some millions again. Every time we pay, nothing is coming back. The loan scheme is to help us have a sort of a revolving fund,”the higher education minister explained to Coffee Time shortly before going into the first day of the three-day review meeting of stakeholders.
“They will have their education without any disturbance. Maybe one year or two years after, they can start paying the amount to be determined but it shouldn’t be that much that will disturb them. So, they will start work and then start paying,” Prof. Gomez said as he explained how the funds generated would be ploughed back to the financing of the university education of the brothers and sisters of the beneficiaries.

Tertiary & Higher Edu. Trust Fund, Innovation Fund

Two other milestone draft bills to be reviewed from today through to Friday are The Tertiary & Higher Education Trust Fund and The Innovation Fund.
The idea behind the tertiary and higher education trust fund is to generate funds to support universities and colleges build labs,classrooms,buy teaching aid and others as well as equipping them.
The Innovation Fund is geared towards stimulating creativity and passion for innovation and critical thinking.
“So, these are the bills we want to take to Cabinet and later the National Assembly so that for the first time Gambia will have these systems in place, these instruments to be able to improve the services within the higher education system,”Prof. Gomez told Coffee Time With Peter Gomez Wednesday morning.
(WCR)

Marine Biologist Says Washed Dead Whale Possible Victim Of Collision, Poaching

Marine biologist and specialist in coastal zone management Lamin Komma has said the dead whale found between Barra and Ginack recently may have had a contact with a fishing tanker vessel or people engaged in hunt for whales.
Recently,environmentalists sharply criticized the Gambia government for what, they said, was its failure to robustly police the country’s waters, hence the washing on shore of two dead whales and thousands of dead fish in some coastal communities.
But in an exclusive interview with Coffee Time With Peter Gomez Tuesday morning, Mr. Lamin Komma with over two decades of work experience at the livestock and fisheries departments of the government of The Gambia, suggested that the dead whale found in North bank may have come into contact with either a vessel or unscrupulous fishermen.
“What must have caused its death and subsequent washing is that it has come into contact with either a tanker vessel or it came into contact with unscrupulous fishermen because whale fishing is also very important because there are concerned authorities, especially the International Whaling Commission,” Mr. Komma, who also had a stint at the NEA before moving to FAO, explained.
” But what I can give as evidence…this particular whale either came into contact with a fishing vessel because you can see the lacerations, wounds and even blood was coming out,”he added.
He pointed out that a whale is indicative of the state of the Gambia’s marine environment and its potential to support life.
” However as a country,what we need to understand is that these whales are enigmatic and fascinating creatures and their appearance, distribution and biology and of course, the ecology, threats and concerns are a concern,”he stressed.
According to Mr. Komma, the theory of the dead whale having contact with another whale specie was also unlikely.
“Naturally, another specie that can attack this whale is… but it’s very rare that they have attacks,” he explained.

Will IEC Chairmanship Issue End At Supreme Court As Halifa Hypothesized?

Veteran politician Halifa Sallah has added his voice to the national conversation around the tenure of the chairman of Gambia’s electoral commission.
The Chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission(IEC), Alieu Momar Njie, had his contract extended a fortnight ago following a disapproval from a US-based Gambian activist.
Activist Pa Samba Jow stirred the hornet’s nest two weeks ago when he rightly argued that the Gambia government was violating the laws of the land by failing to apply the brakes on Mr. Njie’s previous term in office.
Jow contended that the IEC chair’s term had expired and that he was occupying the position illegally.
This apparently sent government’s legal minds into a frenzy, falling backwards on records and other available resources but they eventually realized that Jow knew exactly what he was talking about.
Consequently, Alieu Momar Njie’s contract was renewed but it would appear Halifa Sallah of the socialist PDOIS was not amused.
“So, essentially it’s a matter of concern. And when proper investigation is done, proper competition and one sees that it exceeds 14 years’ service or something have happened with secondment et cetera that may not necessarily be very clear in law or not even acceptable to the law. Well, those are issues that one can put up as a case to the supreme court for a declaration that the occupant of that office becomes someone, who should be removed from that office, “Sallah said as he spoke in a post-local government elections press conference.
He talked about the zeal of PDOIS in taking the matter to another level such as the Inter-Party Committee(IPC).
So the unanswered question is: Will the IEC chairmanship issue fester to a level lawyers will battle it out in courts?
(WCR)

What Jamie Barrow Told Nottingham Court Over Deaths Of 3 Gambians

The man, who allegedly murdered a Gambian lady Fatoumatta Hydara and her two daughters, was quoted as saying his intention was not to occasion any harm to the victims when he set their house alight.
Jamie Barrow, 31,appeared at a Nottingham court last week to answer to a string of allegations against him over last year’s deaths in a house he suspiciously set on fire deliberately.
“He agreed that he did it but he didn’t intend to do any harm to anyone there but he just wanted to burn the house, which was ridiculous, ” an uncle to the late Fatoumatta Hydara Dawda Dibba told Coffee Time with Peter Gomez a day after the pretrial hearing.
Meanwhile, Jamie Barrow has been reportedly certified psychologically fit to undergo trial over the murder charges.

Gambia’s Defense Ministry Reacts To Overreach Allegations Against Sub-regional Troops

The Gambia’s ministry of defense has been compelled to finally respond to allegations that locals have been denied access to their rice fields and farms by troops from the West Africa sub-regional stabilization force-ECOMIG.
UDP’s chief propagandist Momodou Sabally late last month expressed his dismay on Coffee Time With Peter Gomez when a government official said government was prepared to send a fact-finding mission to Foni to establish ground truths about reports farmers in Foni Kansala were being prevented from gaining access to their farms.
Almost a month on, the Gambia’s ministry of defense officially said it deemed it fitting and prudent to probe into the reports for the determination of “appropriate course of action”.
According to a press release issued by the defense ministry, it had already engaged the High Command of the ECOMIG sub-regional forces as it emphasized the ministry’s seriousness in dealing with any threat to safety and security of lives and property as well as the territorial integrity of The Gambia.
“In light of the above, the ECOMIG Command has informed the Ministry that their Forces do not have the authority to prevent any citizen of The Gambia especially residents in Foni Kansala District from accessing or working on their farms,”the ministry reported in the release.
The defense ministry said deployment of troops in the Foni belt, especially in the birthplace of the former Gambian strongman, was “informed by the level of insecurity around The Gambia’s southern border with Senegal”.
Currently, the Gambia Armed Forces(GAF) has a battalion-strong presence in Kanilai called the 4 Infantry Battalion created after Jammeh’s ouster.
The ministry said there have been deployment of personnel of GAF across The Gambia.
The release highlighted the gratitude of GAF and sister security agencies such as the national police force in maintaining joint-patrols and training around the protection of lives and property as well as the deepening of inter-agency cooperation.
The defense ministry said troops from the 4 Infantry Battalion will not relent on their “vigorous patrols” to ensure the safety and security of lives and property, in what’s known in security parlance as, their Area Of Responsibility(AOR).
“This is with the aim of restoring confidence so that citizens living in this region of the country could go about their daily activities without fear,” the defense ministry explained.
It tried to give assurance to farmers in Foni Kansala that they can go to their rice fields or farms without hindrance.
“The Ministry wishes to reassure citizens of this country of its commitment to the protection of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of this country through our gallant men and women-The Gambia Armed Forces,” defense ministry stated in the despatch.
“Therefore, owners of the rice fields/farms in and around Foni Kansala and its environs are encouraged to report anyone that tries to prevent them from accessing their farms to the nearest Police Station or to the Commander of the 4 Infantry Battalion,”it added.

UDP Top Official Construes Barrow’s Planned Tour As Hunt for Votes

UDP top official Tombong Saidy has construed President Adama Barrow’s planned May tour as a charm offensive.
Mr. Saidy contended that the proposed tour was a part of machinations by the NPP to win hearts and minds for the incoming mayoral and chairmanship elections.
The Gambian leader is expected to embark upon the tour on May 1-May 11,2023, and it’s expected to take him to many nooks and crannies such as the far-flung URR village of Numuyel, where his party lost in the just-held ward elections.
“For me and the United Democratic Party, this is just a political campaign in disguise because anytime the President moves in such a tour, is funded by the State… by our tax payers’ own money. So, it’s the timing of this tour. It is meant solely to campaign for NPP for the coming mayoral and chairmanship election. Nothing else,” Saidy argued as he spoke to Coffee Time With Peter Gomez this morning.

KM’s Lady DM On ‘New-Era’ For Women In Gambian Politics

The deputy mayor of Kanifing Municipality has stated that women have been feathering the political nests of men for a long time now and that the time has come for them to shun peripheral politics.
Binta Janneh-Jallow was last Saturday returned to office after being elected five years ago as councillor for Bakau New Town ward.
When she was elected in 2018, Madam Janneh-Jallow was the sole woman at the council but following the vote last Saturday, she is now joined by four other women as councillors.
“Women in politics, leadership, peace-building and decision-making is very important,” Janneh-Jallow underlined in an interview with Coffee Time With Peter Gomez.
“When elections come, men go to women because when you look at the registration form, women are the most… I think it’s our right to go and look for political positions. We want our voice heard, be part of policy-making and then development because we are advocating for gender equity; fairness in politics,” she stressed.
She added:”No-one can tell us about leadership. We start at home… the central caretaker of the family. So when it comes to politics, I think it’s equity or gender equality to share both roles and responsibilities, which inspired me for our voice to be heard.”
For the deputy mayor, her election and that of four other women as councillors will serve as a source of inspiration for young women.
“This is amazing. It’s going to make sure the young ones, who are coming to be involved in politics…as far as what men can do, women can do. I always say when you have men, you have women,” she highlighted.

Jaw Says Both NPP&UDP Did Well In LG Elections

The co-founder and executive director of Centre for Research and Policy Development said both the NPP and UDP did well in Saturday’s local government elections.
Sait Matty Jaw also said the split of the votes between rural and urban Gambia was a reflection of the voting pattern in the country.
“The votes were divided between the rural and urban voters, “Jaw explained in an interview with Coffee Time on Tuesday morning.
“And, I think this a reflection of what happened in the parliamentary elections, where we see the urban voters, voting opposition and rural voters largely… of course, largely… We are seeing this dynamic, “he added.
To Jaw, the local elections results represented victory for both the NPP and UDP.
” I think it’s a win for both parties, “he reckoned in view of the 62 per cent that the UDP pooled in the last local government elections when it was intact.
More on the interview in this space later.

UDP’s Taal Hints IEC’s Travel Behind Time Costly For Elections

The spokesperson of the UDP said IEC’s failure to modernize the institution through reforms has been expensive for Gambian elections.
According to Almamy Fanding Taal, the Gambia’s main opposition party was not the only organization disillusioned by the IEC’s inability to modernize the country’s elections management body.
He told Coffee Time With Peter Gomez:”Not only the UDP… the Civil Society Organizations that have come out and they have expressed their views and individuals also have come out and they expressed their views. I think the IEC for the last seven years or so has been talking about reforming the electoral process and the old system and modernizing it and redistricting the electoral landscape. All of this are things that could have been done within the last five years or so if at all the IEC was working as a modern organization.”
To the UDP chief communications strategist, IEC has still failed to trend towards modern ways of elections management and that the situation has been affecting the credibility of elections it conducted.
“But it’s(IEC) clearly not doing (modernization)that and every time elections come, there are always complaints about its own efficiency… people in their communities would come out and express the view that they have seen people cast the votes, who are non-Gambians…they have evidence of that… they would take it to the IEC and no action would be taken,”Taal lamented.

Min.Says Sonko’s Indictment Signals Inestimable Reach Of Long Arm Of Justice

The Gambia’s justice minister has described the indictment of the country’s ex-interior minister as an emphatic message to him and his confederates in crime that the crimes they committed will not evade the long arms of justice.
Ousman Sonko served as Gambia’s interior minister from 2006 to 2016 but fled the country before his boss was defeated in a general election a month later.
When he entered the Swiss Federation, the former army major applied for an asylum in November but got arrested in 2017 and was held in pretrial detention since then.
Sonko was on Tuesday charged with crimes against humanity for his role in years of oppression of Jammeh’s opponents by Gambia’s security forces.
“We are very pleased that finally Ousman has been charged,” Gambia’s justice minister Alhaji Dawda Jallow, who said the country had been waiting for this moment, admitted in an interview with Coffee Time With Peter Gomez Wednesday morning.
According to Hon. Jallow, two vital lessons could be drawn from Mr. Sonko’s current legal troubles.
“No matter how long or wherever you are-with the crimes that Ousman and his colleagues have committed in The Gambia-the long arms of justice will reach out to you one day or the other,” minister Jallow explained.
“But the other lesson I think I want to share with Gambians is they need to be very patient. Some of these things can take long,” the attorney general stated.
He continued:”If you look at Switzerland, as a developed First World country with all their resources, it took them six years to file the charges. In The Gambia, with the limited resources and capacity, we are making substantive progress towards ensuring that justice is served. So, we need to be a little bit patient. Sometimes these crimes are complicated… investigation can take a while if you want to succeed in the court.”

Reforms Min. Promises Pensioners Could Soon Access Gratuity In Under 30 Days

The Gambia’s cumbersome pension system is reportedly going through the much-anticipated reforms with the country’s reforms minister giving the assurance on Thursday that pensioners will soon start accessing their gratuity within 30 days.
“We have this Pensions Directorate that has been created and we have just concluded discussion with the Accountant General’s office so that the payment of gratuity and pensions will now be much quicker,” the Minister of Reforms, Babucarr Boye told Coffee Time With Peter Gomez this morning.
“In the past, there used to be nine steps and people used to wait for three to four months…some even more to get their gratuity. I’m happy to inform the public that very soon, very soon, you will have a situation it would take less than 30 days for somebody to receive his or her gratuity,” minister Boye stated.

IEC Chair’s Contract Extended Following Activist’s Hue & Cry

The Gambia government on Wednesday extended the IEC chairman’s contract in what could be described as a knee-jerk reaction.
US-based Gambian political activist Pa Samba Jow sounded the alarm bell on Wednesday that Alieu Momar Njie had overstayed and that since Friday of last week, he ceased to be IEC’s legitimate chair as per the terms of his last contract.
This comment of Jow’s reportedly compelled the justice ministry staff to check the records and when this was done, it was discovered that Alieu Momar Njie has indeed overstayed.
Consequently, The ministry quickly breathed a new lease of life into his contract by giving it a two-year extension.

Blogger ‘Happy’ To Meet Barrow In Court Over Multi-million Euro Bribery Allegation

UK-based Gambian blogger has expressed excitement over the prospect of President Adama Barrow going down the legal lane with him over bribery allegation.
President Barrow has reportedly not been treating lightly the report by Sulayman Ben Suwareh that he received a 2.5 million euros kickback for the award of a bus contract.
The government spokesperson on Tuesday told Coffee Time With Peter Gomez that the President has already asked for the review of the allegation for possible legal action.
But the author of the report, Sulayman Ben Suwareh, this morning told Coffee Time With Peter Gomez:”I am happy that Barrow will be taking this matter to court because this will give Gambians an opportunity to put him on trial, hence the NAMs, who are supposed to hold him accountable and other institutions, are failing to do so. This will be a perfect opportunity to prove my allegations and to make sure Barrow is held to account.”
Asked to provide evidence for his allegation, Mr. Suwareh said:”Thank you for asking that question but unfortunately, I am not going to reveal my legal strategy, hence this case is going to proceed to court. But what I want to remind Gambians is that these allegations are grounded. And the reason to say is grounded…my allegation mirrored all the national audit office report and the Malagen newspaper. And the only thing absent from the national audit report is that the President has benefitted…the powers that he abused to make sure Gambia government got into contracts that are not favourable and that are detrimental to the economy of the country. The Banjul project is one example that the President used executive powers to issue out contracts that the former National Audit Office director general called a very bad contract. But again, the same thing happened with the airport 20 dollars or 20 pounds levy.
I don’t have anything personal against Barrow or the cabal members. I have been consistent since Jawara time. Everything I said have been vindicated in time. And, I will not come out and make such an allegation to the President without having the proof or way to prove that the President have benefitted.”

Gov’t To Revert To Records To Determine Legality Of IEC Chair’s Term

The Gambia’s minister of justice said government will consult records to determine whether Alieu Momar Njie has been occupying the IEC chair illegally since last Friday.
Activist Pa Samba Jaw asserted on Tuesday that IEC chairman’s term ended on Friday of last week and that it could not be extended for even an hour.
But in a conversation with Coffee Time With Peter Gomez on Wednesday, justice minister Dawda Jallow said Pa Samba Jaw’s assertion was at variance with the records.
“That is contrary to the records. One thing I like about Mr. Jaw…he usually reaches out to me. So, I will see what evidence he has and we will compare with what we have on records.Our record show that the current chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission was first appointed … actually… he had a short spell in 2006 briefly during Jammeh but was reappointed in 2011 for a seven-year term, which according to Mr. Jaw, expired in 2018. He got another extension. If the term is seven years, that extension is due to expire in 2025. So, for it to be expiring in 2023, I need to know what evidence does Mr. Jaw has and we compare with records,”Hon. Jallow told Coffee Time.

Over 200 Seagulls Killed By Avian Flu In Gambia-SG Hydara

The Secretary General of the Gambia Environmental Alliance has put the number of seagulls killed as the consequence of Avian Influenza to more than 200.
The Department of Parks and Wildlife Management, Department of Livestock Services and the Ministry of Health last week publicly confirmed cases of Avian Influenza in undomesticated birds at Tanji Bird Reserve, Kartong beach and Kotu creek.
“This variant we’re dealing with is the H5N1, which is a concern because so far what we have seen, it has killed more than 200 seagulls,” Gambia Environmental Alliance’s SG Muhammed Hydara told Coffee Time With Peter Gomez.
“And everyday, I believe the numbers will be increasing because it’s just like the Covid pandemic,” he pointed out.
Hydara said he was particularly concerned about the transmission among the wild and domesticated birds.
“Imagine how people benefit from other birds like home birds, like the poultry farms. We are in this Ramadan… people have to feed . So, that’s our major, major worry because if it had to skip from wild birds and hit our Over 200 Seagulls Killed By Avian Flu In Gambia-SG Hydara.
The Secretary General of the Gambia Environmental Alliance has put the number of seagulls killed as the consequence of Avian Influenza to more than 200.
The Department of Parks and Wildlife Management, Department of Livestock Services and the Ministry of Health last week publicly confirmed cases of Avian Influenza in undomesticated birds at Tanji Bird Reserve, Kartong beach and Kotu creek.
“This variant we’re dealing with is the H5N1, which is a concern because so far what we have seen, it has killed more than 200 seagulls,” Gambia Environmental Alliance’s SG Muhammed Hydara told Coffee Time With Peter Gomez.
“And everyday, I believe the numbers will be increasing because it’s just like the Covid pandemic,” he pointed out.
Hydara said he was particularly concerned about the transmission among the wild and domesticated birds.
“Imagine how people benefit from other birds like home birds, like the poultry farms. We are in this Ramadan… people have to feed . So, that’s our major, major worry because if it had to skip from wild birds and hit our home birds, obviously then this thing will be a huge disaster,” he added. birds, obviously then this thing will be a huge disaster,” he added.

Barrow Instructs AG To Examine &2.5m Bribery Allegation As He Contemplates Legal Action

The Gambia’s President has reportedly instructed the country’s minister of justice to critically look into a report, alleging a bribe payment of 2.5 million euros to him(President).
The Gambia government spokesperson this morning told Coffee Time With Peter Gomez that government plans to seek redress through the courts.
“So, I am telling you President Barrow has instructed the Attorney General to look seriously into this case and Gambia government plans to take legal actions or action against the person or persons, who actually wrote this piece of gabbage,” Ebrima G. Sankareh revealed.
Mr. Sankareh explained that President Barrow read the report as did everyone linked to it.
“He read it. Everybody involved, I think at least, has also read it. We had an extended conversation last night (Barrow and I). And, I can assure you he has read it and is very unhappy with it,” the government spokesperson stated.
“He (President) has instructed the Attorney General and minister of justice to review the report and advice him legally…what legal options are available to the extent that he’s willing to even hire lawyers out of this jurisdiction in the UK and in America, who can actually help deal with this scurrilous allegations against him, members of his government, his character; defaming him,” he disclosed.

Prexy Barrow Plans Bus Drive Tomorrow-Sankareh

President Adama Barrow of The Gambia is tomorrow expected to partake in a landmark bus ride from the country’s capital all the way to the regional capital of West Coast Region.
Mr. Barrow is on Wednesday expected to unleash 70 buses to urban Gambia as the population groans under the yoke of acute locomotion challenges.
The 70 buses are expected to be commissioned at McCarthy Square tomorrow.
“President Barrow plans to be on a bus drive from McCarthy Square. The presidential party will have a caravan from Banjul to Kombo,” adviser to the President on Diaspora Matters informed Coffee Time With Peter Gomez on Tuesday morning.

‘ALFOB Does Not Want Gambia Blacklisted Over Terrorism Financing, Money Laundering’

The Association of Licenced Forex Bureaux in The Gambia (ALFOB) has assumed a vanguard role in the fight against financing of terrorism and money laundering, revealed the association’s officials on Tuesday.
ALFOB Vice President Momodou Muhammad Jagana and another top member of the association Momodou Jallow highlighted some of the key interventions and partnerships that ALFOB made and embraced to ensure that The Gambia is not blacklisted as a result of an unregulated money transfer domain.
“We have a very strong relationship with the Central Bank of The Gambia as the oversight institution responsible for bureaux,” Mr. Jagana disclosed in an interview with Coffee Time With Peter Gomez on Tuesday.
“We do meet the governor and members of the Central Bank regularly, depending on what’s happening in the economy. And, we do exchange ideas in terms of how to improve both the supply side and also the governance because we have to understand that The Gambia is part of a global village,” ALFOB vice president Jagana laid out.
According to Mr. Jagana also the country boss of J-Fin Money Transfer, ALFOB came to the fore of the combat against terrorism financing and money laundering because it doesn’t want The Gambia blacklisted.
“So, that’s why we work with the Central Bank and the Financial Intelligence Unit. We usually have training with them so that our members will understand what they have to do as a community of bureau operators,” he stated.
“We are very collaborative with the regulatory framework that’s being applied by the government of The Gambia through Central Bank of The Gambia,” he added.
Meanwhile according to Mr. Momodou Jallow, the transfers MTOs operate in The Gambia ‘are bound by the same laws, where they are domiciled’.
“And if we happen to be a weak country, it means for example, Western Union can say you can’t use Western Union to send money to The Gambia because Gambia is a country that does not collaborate with the authorities to make sure their financial dealings are very transparent and controlled,” Mr. Jallow explained.
“So, it’s very important from our side to show that The Gambia is very cautious and to act in the best interest of the people, receiving money here. We make sure Gambia is safe for money transfer and not used to launder money,”the ALFOB official stated.

For more on the interview, listen to podcast.

Parallel Money Market Pushes Essential Commodity Prices Up-J-Fin Boss

The Country Director of J-Fin Money Transfer said parallel money market has been pushing up the prices of basic commodities in The Gambia.
In an interview with Coffee Time With Peter Gomez on Tuesday, Momodou Muhammad Jagana asserted that the cost of living in The Gambia “is driven mostly by forex”.
“What we need to understand…you go through Westfield…you see government officials park their vehicles, buying or selling FX to these local or informal guys. But what we don’t seem to know or what is being told is the impact of this parallel market on the economy. Today, the cost of living in The Gambia is driven mostly by the forex,”the J-Fin country boss explained.
He went on:”In the UK and US, it’s the interest rates. But Gambia here since we don’t have that much export, we import more than we export or produce. Forex is a key determinant of prices. And, it affects everybody. So, if you think that you have $100 and a bureau offers you D61 but the Black Market is offering you D63 and you think that you’ve done well by having D2 extra. No, you’re eroding your buying power because that guy at Westfield or in the corner somewhere is going to sell to somebody, who desperately needs it, at D64 or D65. And automatically, these importers will add it to the price of the commodities they import.
“So, that’s why prices of basic commodities have been going up drastically in this country. Forex has a direct impact and I think as a nation, we need to get people understand this. You’re not doing yourself any favour. As the English people say biting yourself by cutting your nose.”
(WCR)

For more on the interview, listen to podcast.

GRA Mobilizes Record D1.5bn for March

The Gambia Revenue Authority(GRA)has just smashed the record for revenue collected in one month by raking in D1.5bn for March 2023.
The highly-elated Commissioner General of GRA, Yankuba Darboe, this morning told Coffee Time With Peter Gomez that the record revenue collection was made possible due to variables such as the increased consciousness of tax payers of their tax obligation, digitization, robust enforcement, the goodwill of the Gambian leader, tax payer education, strategic leadership at GRA and the creation of a tax policy department at the finance ministry.
“It’s a record collection(D1.5bn) that we’ve made and if you’ve been following the history of revenue collection, every March we always break record. Last year the same period, we collected over D1.4bn. Again this year also, we collected over D1.5bn for the month of March,” CG Darboe enthused in an interview with Coffee Time on Tuesday.
Asked by host why March was so special to GRA, CG Darboe replied:”March is special to us because it marks the end of final payment for all businesses that are within the country. And normally every quarter, businesses pay their income and corporation taxes. What they pay is considered as an advance payment towards their tax liability. So when we move to the other end of the year, end of March on or before, they should all file and make their final payment. Meaning, once they have their audited account, they will work it out paying for the first quarter, second quarter and the third quarter and then subtract it whatever their tax liability is and the balance that they suppose to pay on or before 31 March. So, that is why end of March is always very significant to us.”

For more on the interview, listen to podcast.

Factors For Record Collection

CG Darboe also attributed the record March revenue collection to teamwork.
“The GRA staff is working as a team and not as individuals. They are working under a command. Everybody follows that command and that is what has resulted to this,” the GRA boss acknowledged.
He continued:”Secondly, the compliance level has increased within the country. We’ve seen that since we introduced the tax payers’ awards, which the President of the country always attend and give the prizes himself to tax payers, I think that’s a source of motivation. It has turned out to be great motivation to taxpayers such that everybody is competing to win a prize and that therefore, helped us in increasing the compliance level.”
Darboe disclosed that the calibration of enforcement measures by GRA staff, tax audit, data matching and the introduction of ASYCUDA World have all propelled revenue mobilization to a whole new height of efficiency.

For more on the interview, listen to podcast.

Barrow’s Chief of Staff Says Accountability Process In Democracy & Dictatorship Different

President Adama Barrow has been unable to convince many Gambians he has not been treating suspected financial miscreants in his government with kid’s gloves but his chief of staff said on Tuesday that “accountability process” in a democracy is different from that in a dictatorship.
The Gambia government has been apparently doing a poor job in dealing with deepening public perception of official graft and the nonchalance with which the vice seemed to be treated at the executive level, has also been causing concern about the Barrow dispensation’s management of the national coffers.
President Barrow recently exposed himself to sweltering criticism when he described audit reports as opinions.
However, his chief of staff Mod K. Ceesay emphasized on Tuesday that the President and his government have not been resting on their laurels when it came to the fight against corruption.
“It’s so wrong to suggest that government did nothing (to fight corruption). In all these reports(audit reports) necessarily, administrative disciplinary actions were taken; recovering funds, indictments, dismissals, prosecution as well as sentencing,”Chief of Staff at the Presidency told Coffee Time With Peter Gomez on Tuesday.
“Audit recommendations are fully implemented. The accountability process under a democratic space is different from a dictatorship, where mere petition is enough to put you behind bars,” he explained.
“People were used to that type and for far too long, that’s what they are accustomed to. But that’s why they opted for things to be done right,” added Ceesay.
(WCR)

For more on the interview, listen to podcast.

Afrexim Bank Trade Roadshow Returns Gambia

The Africa Import-Export (Afrexim) Bank Trade Road Show returns to The Gambia for the second time on Tuesday with stakeholders in trade financing expected to be in attendance. The two-day event will be held at the Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara International Conference Centre at Bijilo, in partnership with Oakwood Green Africa Limited and the Gambia Import-Export Promotion Agency, GiEPA.
The theme of the trade road show is “Sustaining the Intra-Africa Trade Drive: Navigating the Last Mile.” Obioma Ewaka from Afrexim Bank, Cynthia Eriyo from Oakwood Green Africa Limited and Baboucar Camara of GIEPA are all excited about the two-day trade promotion event. They spoke to Coffee Time With Peter Gomez on Monday morning and had this to say:
Cynthia: “The roadshow is aimed at promoting and exploring ways to deepen and be intentional about Intra-Africa trade and trade financing in The Gambia to the last mile and bring to the forefront of The Gambia what the bank is doing.”
Obioma: “I believe they (commercial banks) are also very critical in this whole discussion. The commercial banks are, indeed a focus for us. Insurance companies, forex bureaux… Generally, the entire business community because stakeholders within the African trade space cut across almost the length and breadth of the economy of The Gambia.”
Baboucar: “We have been able to, at least, mobilize, so far of course, the businesses in The Gambia, including the financial sector and registration is ongoing online.”
For more on the interview, listen to today’s podcast.

Bird Watcher Speaks Of Possible Avian Flu Deaths At Tanji Bird Reserve

Despite the Gambia’s health ministry having yet to confirm any case of bird flu in the country, a bird enthusiast has shared with Coffee Time With Peter Gomez his heartbreaking experience of witnessing birds succumb to what, he feared, could be linked to Avian Influenza.
Reports suggest there was an outbreak of the deadly disease on a farm north-western Senegal last month. Tamba Jeffang, an ornithologist and conservationist, told Coffee Time With Peter Gomez that he saw birds dying at Tanji Bird Reserve with what could be flu-related.
“There are two things that happened in the last couple of weeks – the whales and also the Avian Flu that is happening. And, it’s absolutely ravaging the species. At Tanji Bird Reserve, I went with some friends, we were watching birds as we do and whilst we were watching these birds, they were dying in front of us. It was heartbreaking. It’s alarming and people need to be sensitized.”

For more on Jeffang’s interview listen to the podcast

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