- Gambian civil servants [undoubtedly among Africa's least paid] are celebrating a 20% surprise salary increase announced by President Yahya Jammeh.
Civil servants had waited too long for a salary increase and their hopes were dashed when the matter was not addressed in the last budget speech in December.
In a New Year's message to the nation, Gambian President said the increase was effective on 1 January 2008.
Jammeh was upbeat that his country's economy would maintain the "tremendous success" it has attained in 2007.
“We have registered a GDP growth rate of 7%, built around strong and well-managed public finances and a sound monetary policy that has resulted in low inflation, and enhanced the international reserve situation of the country," he said.
Jammeh described The Gambia's approval for the cancellation of HIPC and G8 Mulltilateral Debt Relief Initiative as "an important economic development."
He said the "resources that will be released from this commendable achievement will now be invested in the social sectors and other priority areas of the economy in 2008 and beyond.
"This will include plans that are well advanced to address the sustainable development and retention of capacity in public administration through reforms in pay policy, pension, human resource development, and related capacity retention programs."
Gambian leader expressed his government's resolve to contribute to the effective functioning of the civil service and efficient dispensation of public administration.
Jammeh also announced that with effect from 2009, salary increment will be worked out on the basis of the Comprehensive Civil Services Reform Program Study expected to be completed soon.
“For 2008, government will continue to build on the macro economic gains achieved in 2007. Public financial management and fiscal discipline will continue to be strengthened, and monetary policy will be further tightened to contain inflation, and create employment.
“Considerable budgetary resources have already been earmarked for development of the social sectors to reduce poverty, and attain the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and also the goals of vision 2020."
But the leader of the main opposition United Democratic Party (UDP), Lawyer Ousainou Darboe, said Jammeh's "misguided economic policies has continued to wreck havoc on the populations."
“The economic stagnation that has been the result of the misguided policies of this government has continued to wreak havoc on the population," the UDP leader said in his New Year's speech.
"Prices of basic commodities rise daily despite the apparent fall in the exchange rates of all foreign currencies vis a vis the Dalasi. The continued inability of government to make satisfactory arrangements for the equitable and timely purchase of the groundnut produce, the lack of other production avenues for farmers, the non existence of employment opportunities, have all impoverished the country and make life extremely difficult for the average Gambian."
Darboe was not at ease that the last approved budget has shown significant increase in government expenditure in Defence and the Office of the President at the detriment of Health and Education.
afrol News - It is called "financial inclusion", and it is a key government policy in Rwanda. The goal is that, by 2020, 90 percent of the population is to have and actively use bank accounts. And in only four years, financial inclusion has doubled in Rwanda.
afrol News - The UN's humanitarian agencies now warn about a devastating famine in Sudan and especially in South Sudan, where the situation is said to be "imploding". Relief officials are appealing to donors to urgently fund life-saving activities in the two countries.
afrol News - Fear is spreading all over West Africa after the health ministry in Guinea confirmed the first Ebola outbreak in this part of Africa. According to official numbers, at least 86 are infected and 59 are dead as a result of this very contagious disease.
afrol News - It is already a crime being homosexual in Ethiopia, but parliament is now making sure the anti-gay laws will be applied in practical life. No pardoning of gays will be allowed in future, but activist fear this only is a signal of further repression being prepared.
afrol News / Africa Renewal - Ethiopia's ambitious plan to build a US$ 4.2 billion dam in the Benishangul-Gumuz region, 40 km from its border with Sudan, is expected to provide 6,000 megawatts of electricity, enough for its population plus some excess it can sell to neighbouring countries.