Good morning colleagues and welcome to another media briefing on the engagements of the President of the Republic of the Gambia, His Excellency, Adama Barrow.
His Excellency and officials of the Gambia Ports Authorities, Ministry of works, and OP officials met with members of the Sifax Group, an investment group interested in inland container terminal business. He was comprehensively briefed about the advantages of having such a project as well as the logistics involved.
In the areas of Agriculture, the President also met with members of International Tractors Limited - investors interested in agricultural implements such as tractors to promote mechanised farming and agriculture as a business venture.
Meanwhile, following his nation-wide Meet the People tour, President Barrow has tasked the Ministry of Agriculture to review existing projects to identify the implementation gap of ongoing projects under the ministry.
In another engagement, the Gambian leader received the Chairman of International Association of Ahmadi Architects, Engineers & Technologists, Mr. Akram Ahmedi. The delegation was led to State House by the Amir of the Ahmadiya Jamaat in The Gambia, Mr Baba Trawally. They were joined by the Ministers of Basic Education and MOICI to discuss the Association’s plans to invest in providing water and affordable alternative energy in schools, health facilities and to build a model village in the country. He was also informed about the plan to build a school for skill training to create middle-level artisans among young people. President Barrow assured them of a free and fair environment for creative and innovative investments to compliment his government’s national development agenda. He re-echoed that his government is building institutions such as an independent judiciary to encourage investment in the country.
Meanwhile, the President has expressed concern about the performance of students in the WAEC exams and tasked the Secretary General to work with MOBSE on the issues.
The UNDP Country Representative, Mrs. Ade Mamonyane Lekoetje has bid farewell to the President of the Republica as she comes to the end of her 5-year tour of duty in The Gambia. She assured the President that her successor and the team would continue to partner with the government towards achieving its NDP goals.
As preparations advance for the hosting of the OIC, the President received a Saudi envoy and had a briefing on the progress of preparation to host the second largest global member organisation, OIC Summit. The preparations included the road, airport, and hotels, etc.
Envoy to Equatorial Guinea
The President sent the Foreign Minister as special envoy to Equatorial Guinea to strengthen the bilateral relations between the two countries. It could be recalled that President Obiang had earlier sent his daughter as special envoy to the Gambian leader.
In accordance with section 82 of the Constitution of the Gambia, His Excellency pardoned prisoners serving various jailtime in the Gambia in honor of the Muslim feast of Eid-ul- Adha, locally called Tobaski. It has become a best practice that on such occasions, the Ministry of Justice, working with a specialized Committee including the Ministry of Interior, would provide a list of prisoners deem fit to be pardoned to the President. Unfortunately, the last list submitted to the President during this year’s Eid celebration included a Norwegian national who was sentenced for molestation. His case attracted public concern; however, President Barrow has been updated on the issue and was informed that the prisoner was still under custody. The Ministries of Interior and Justice are working on the issue. The public is assured that the President will use the Constitutional provision of the prerogative of mercy only to free the deserving prisoners.
Social Security and Housing Finance Corporation
In another development, an independent 6-member panel, led by Mr. Lamin Samateh, has been set up to investigate the crises in SSHFC. The team has been provided with a TOR and it is to report in one month.
Support to Gambian Pilgrims in Saudi Arabia
During the President’s visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in June 2018, he was informed that an individual through the Government of Saudi pledged to provide support to Gambian pilgrims this year through the government of The Gambia. Fast forward to this years Hajj period, when the President Barrow was informed that the fund was available as promised for the pilgrims, H.E Barrow immediately instructed that it should be given directly to them while they were still in Saudi Arabia, because they might need it for personal use. Thus, each Gambian pilgrim was given 500 Riyals totaling to an equivalent of Eleven Million, two Hundred and Fifty thousand Dalasis (D11, 250,000).
Unfortunately, the news was wrongly reported from Saudi Arabia on GRTS News as a personal donation from the President.
It should be made known that the individual who provided the fund through the Saudi government did not want to be named, thus, the “anonymous philanthropist” indicated in the Press Release from the Government Spokesperson on the 19th August 2018.
His Excellency assures all Gambians that notwithstanding the miscommunication about some of the issues, he would continue to serve the best interest of The Gambia and Gambians in all his engagements and urges all Gambians to work together for the betterment of the country.
The President has been informed that the only person who was referred to Senegal has recovered and has since returned home. During his stay in Senegal, he was provided medical care and cash to facilitate his stay there.
The president, cabinet members and senior government officials signed the UN condolence book on the demise of the Former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan.
Meanwhile, on the occasion of the Muslim feast of Eid-ul-Adha, H.E sent messages of goodwill, best wishes, and prayers to various Heads of State among the Muslim Ummah.
FOCAC, China Summit
President Barrow will next week travel to Beijing to attend the 2018 China-Africa Heads of State and Government Summit (FOCAC 2018). During the Summit he will have bilateral meetings with Chinese government officials and potential investors. Alongside the Summit, spouses of the Heads of State will be attending a conference on HIV/AIDS.
Before concluding, I would like to thank the government of China through its Embassy in The Gambia for providing to the Press and Public Relations Unit with media production equipment in the form of high-quality professional cameras, and other valuable accessories.
Thank you for your kind attention. I will now take your questions. As usual,
please identify yourself and the media house you represent.