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The Coronavirus Millions: Finance Minister Promises Relief Package for the Vulnerable

The Finance Minister, Mamburay Njie, has informed the public that the government is working on modalities to provide relief packages to the vulnerable in the wake of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Several countries around the world, including the neighboring Senegal, have distributed tons of food packages to its citizens particularly the vulnerable members of the community. This is meant to ease the living condition of people who have been asked to stay home in order to contain the spread of the virus.

The Gambia has registered 9 cases so far among which, one death, two recoveries and six active cases. The country has extended the state of public emergency to 45 days and restricted the businesses and movement of people.

However, many people have since been complaining about their source of livelihoods being restricted without the government providing any relief package.

Mamburay Njie

“With respect to helping Gambians, I think it is the responsibility of the government of The Gambia and data has been gathered,” he told the journalists at the Ministry of Health daily evening briefing.

He said the household data on the vulnerable people they gathered was done before Coronavirus was registered in the country and new data must be collected before the distribution of relief.

“Even those in the urban area now, you and I are also vulnerable because it depends on the type of vulnerability.”

“So, there is pre and post corona vulnerability…we have to be guided by data.”

The Finance Minister said the cabinet committee that’s chaired by the Vice President has been working to ensure that the data they gather would be able to guide them in the distribution.

“So, we are in the very advanced stage and all the necessary information will come to you as soon as we are ready. So, the assistance is guaranteed and we are coming.”

The Coronavirus Millions

Njie was questioned about the several millions of dollars donated by partners to fight the pandemic including the IMF relief.

On top of the government’s own contribution of D500,000,000, the World Bank has approved 10 million USD last month, IMF approved 21 million USD excluding the debt relief package. The individuals and corporate organizations have also made significant donations in the millions. The management and coordination of the funds have always been a concern to the public.

IMF Executive Board
IMF Executive Board

He told journalists that all donations for the government are kept with the Accountant General and not at the Finance Ministry.

However, he said some of the funds are yet to be received while others will not be coming physically, including the 47 million USD.

“It’s something that will be lodged just for balance of payment support.”

“The 21 million USD, we hope that by the end of the month we should get that because the approval was just on the 15th (April). Again, everything is linked to our good micro-economic performance.”

“Our wish was that it came yesterday, not even today. …But they have a process.”

Assisting businesses

Mr. Njie also disclosed that the Ministry of Trade is working closely with the private sector to help all businesses, especially small and medium ventures that are affected by the outbreak.

He said the ministry will recommend a very good package to ease the pressure on businesses.

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