By Sanna Camara
A peoples’ petition by citizens of The Gambia to the Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has detailed how President Jammeh “has systematically dismantled and appropriated once profitable national institutions” of the country.
The IMF’s executive board in its April 2nd 2015 decision, approved an emergency financial assistance grant under the Rapid Credit Facility (RCF) in the amount equivalent to SDR7.775 million (about US$10.8 million) for the government of The Gambia.
Misuse of public funds
The objective of the grant is “to enable the authorities to meet their urgent balance of payment and fiscal needs.” However well-intentioned [the purpose of this grant, it] “can only strengthen the brutal dictatorship of President Yahya Jammeh”, who the petitioners are saying, is often seen using public funds “on incessant ceremonies, musical jamborees, expensive overseas travels, personal foreign mansions and lavish gifts.”
“Less than 10 days after the Executive Board approved the emergency financial assistance, President Jammeh invited Senegalese wrestling champion Eumeu Sene and comedian and Yahya-impersonator Kouthia for a private audience during which Yahya presented Eumeu two vehicles as gift,” the petition addressed to IMF board on the 7th of May 2014 has said.
The petition said that Jammeh has succeded in systematically dismantling and appropriating once profitable national institutions such as the Gambia Livestock Marketing Board, Gambia Produce Marketing Board, Abuko Abattoir (the only modern slaughterhouse in the Gambia), Gambia Telecommunications Company (GAMTEL), the National Water and Electricity Company (NAWEC) and the Gambia Public Transportation Corporation (GPTC).
Boundary between private and Jammeh’s properties
“Over the years, President Jammeh used the Office of the President to blur the boundary between public property and his private property. Several projects that started as public projects soon morphed into his personal property,” it added.
It said: “The Kanilai Group International(KGI), “President Jammeh’s private business outfit and partners, control foreign currency exchange trade, the importation and sale of all petroleum fuel products, cement, construction supplies, cooking oil, rice, flour, school uniforms, farm equipment, without paying taxes, thus under-cutting and out-competing private citizens.”
The petition, currently amassing signatories before dispatch to the IMF, said Gambians have come to the conclusion that “no emergency bailout or staff monitored program will constrain Yahya’s spending habits or the misuse of public funds.”