By Bakary Ceesay
Dr. Ismaila Ceesay, coordinator of the Citizens’ Alliance (CA) Crisis Relief Fund has said that the covid-19 pandemic has exposed Gambia government lack of foresight and has taught the government lessons forever to remember the importance of state’s preparedness in times of emergencies or crisis that could be beyond one’s control.
Dr. Ceesay was speaking on Thursday during the launching of the party’s Crisis Relief Fund held at Paradise Suits Hotel.
Crisis Relief Fund (CRF) is expected to disburse D200,000 to 28 communities within the country as part of the fight against coronavirus. CA will also give support to small businesses to recover from the pandemic.
“We must be able to rely on our government in times of crisis to manage our affairs, by digging deep into such a reserve budget; put in place relief for the most affected and the most vulnerable,” Dr. Ceesay stated.
He added that the primary responsibility of any serious government is to provide leadership in times of crisis and to ensure the health, economic and social well-being of its citizens during pandemics of this nature and other disasters are taken care of.”
Dr. Ceesay, also a political commentator predicted that the aftershocks of covid-19 will pose a serious threat to the Gambian people, citing it might be “equally serious as the virus itself.”
“UN economic commission for Africa estimates that over 300,000 Africans could die from coronavirus, 27 million people could be pushed into extreme poverty.” Therefore, he added that the economic impact of covid-19 should not be underestimated, he further warned.
Missing in the government’s strategy, he observed, is a socio-economic response plan that would address the financial and economic impacts of the disease and the unexpected burden that it places on the people and their livelihoods.”
Therefore, he said that CA believes that the measures put in place by the government to contain the virus has the potential to cause adverse financial and economic impacts on the already poverty stricken population.
“Already we know that 75% of Gambians engage in hand-to-mouth activities, where they have to go out in the morning to fetch and come and feed their families. If government comes up with measures that forces them to stay at home, they must provide an alternative for them so that they can able to feed their families.”
Dr. Ceesay added if government force people from the streets, to protect them from the virus, they must provide for them to protect them from the ravages of hunger in their homes.
“The government must come up with a strategy to make sure that they help taxi drivers, petty traders and the women who sell in the market amongst others.”
To help mitigate the effects of the measures, he said that the government must adopt corresponding social and economic measures that will ensure that those affected are provided with a safety net by providing the most vulnerable direct financial support in the form of cash transfers and to support the Small and medium-sized enterprises and businesses affected by the economic slowdown in the form of tax and import duty rebates, concessional loans and other economic stimulants.
Dominic Mendy, the interim chairman of the party, said that the Gambia like all nations and humanity are at war with covid-19, adding that covid-19 is considered the Third World War which the enemy is not human but is real and illusive.