The Indian President Ram Nath Kovind has announced in Banjul Wednesday that his country has agreed to give The Gambia half a million US dollars to support artist industry and skills development. He did not say if this will be a loan or a grant.
President Kovind who arrived in Banjul Tuesday for a two-day state visit made the announcement at a joint press briefing with President Adama Barrow at the State House. It’s the first time an Indian president is visiting The Gambia.
The press briefing followed a closed-door meeting between the two leaders.
“I’m pleased to inform you that during our discussions we’ve identified specific areas of cooperation,” the Indian leader told journalists. “We’ve decided to extend assistance of half a million US dollars in support of skills development and artist industry project. We also agreed to offer training in the fields of judiciary, police, administration and technical expertise as per the request and in line with the priorities of the Gambian side.”
On global front, he hailed The Gambia for supporting India’s candidature for a permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council.
“We also agreed to be in close coordination at the United Nations to extend the global fight against terrorism,” President Kovind said.
The guest president also expressed appreciation to the support of The Gambia to the Indian community in the country.
“India remains committed to partnering with The Gambia in its progress and prosperity and we look forward to our continuous friendship and ever growing partnership base on mutual trust and confidence.”
For his part, President Barrow told journalists that India gave The Gambia a debt relief for a period of five years. He did not give any figures.
“The debt is a big burden and we appealed to India debt relief. We have discussed that and at least they gave us a debt relief of five years that will assist The Gambia to implement some of our projects.”
According to Barrow, The Gambia has been paying sixty percent of the taxes collected monthly to service the debt. He said last month alone, government paid over D600 million to service debt.
According to the Indian Foreign Ministry, India’s several lines of credit to Gambia include $6.7 million in 2006 for a tractor assembly plant and approximately $27 million for construction of the National Assembly Building Complex inaugurated in 2014.
President Kovind who will visit Guinea after The Gambia as part of a tour aimed at intensifying India’s outreach to Africa, will address the members of the National Assembly in Banjul.
India and The Gambia have longstanding bilateral ties. There are multiple Indian business across the country.
Editor’s Note: We initially reported that India committed half a billion dollars. That was erroneous. It should have been half a million dollars. We apologise for that error.