Opinion, TorchLight

Torchlight With Michael Scales: Gambia Has A Bright Future

Michael Scales

(JollofNews) – According to the French press, President Adama Barrow has put a figure on the amount as being 4 billion Dalasis (about 80 million Euros) that Yahya Jammeh took from the Gambian coffers This is around the same amount that Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and Moamar Gaddafi of Libya were claimed to have diverted to foreign bank accounts during their tenure. But of course the Gambia is a much smaller and poorer nation with no oil.

My understanding is that the banking system recovery mechanism called “claim back” only works if there was proven fraud or the payments were unauthorised. This would be out of my field of knowledge and best left to barristers to argue.

On a positive note though, these would be placed on a balance sheet as none recurring expenses. So without these withdrawals, the Gambia should make a strong fiscal recovery. However, it was sad to see President Barrow doing the rounds in Europe for cash aid. Of course the Europeans are kind with words indicating their hope that human rights and democratic intentions makes future assistance as “possible”, but words are cheap and actions speak louder than words.

The report also indicated that the Chinese were refurbishing the Statehouse and that the Gambia has signed an agreement with Senegal to train 1000 soldiers. Clearly, there should be no weak links in West Africa to combat the growing threat of terrorism in the region. A terrorist strike in Gambia would cripple the fragile Gambian economy. However, with Jammeh out of the way, internal and external attacks should be minimised.

Mr Barrow also was less than clear when asked if he would stay for the full five-year term. The markets need certainty and a government of unity all pointing in the same direction. We need to see how the coalition manifesto pledges are to be implemented and by which policies.  I think a top-down reform of the Gambia’s banking system is called for, which a credit score based lending system urgently needed with emphasis on affordable start-up business loans being in vanguard of all future government and banking policy.

This will attract many Gambians with cash back into the country. I have never been a fan of Value Added Tax (VAT) as this is a universal tax that the rich and poor pay with no relief for those who are the poorest in society.  The old system of purchase tax was much fairer. Governments like this tax as they can raise revenue easily just by increasing the amount paid.

The former APRC government’s universal policies should not be disregarded but modified and made to work better. I continue to ask for the input of all permanent secretaries and business leaders to advise the Barrow government on the balanced way forward. Experience is knowledge, information is power!
I believe The Gambia has a very bright future.


  1. Michael
    We need your assistance to make the government to understand that we need to build free ports by air by sea and eventually by land with relevant inputs if we want to develop Gambia upto date
    I was in the middle east. when they embark the same projects
    Our natural position and conditions are far more better to the extent that it will cost us less to do the same projects
    Good luck

  2. Mr Sonko’

    This was one of many projects that Mr Jammeh mooted but like so many of his words…They were fanciful dreams. {Remember “super power”}

    I see Gambia as a blank canvass, that could attract modern commercial projects like the positive one you are mooting.

    Gambia could also benefit from the weaker pound to reduce its imports, as the English ports are also closer and less expensive transport/logistically wise.

    I would suggest the high cost of land close to the airport and docks is something that government could give incentive for local/ foreign investors.

    The re-export inititive is good but I would be looking at what Gambia is importing and make incentives for example///Building materials to be manufactured in Gambia. A prime example is doors and windows.

    Think “blank canvass” Excellent suggestion and achievable. Yes I can help.

  3. While LK Sonko and Mike Scales mean well and have good intentions for The Gambia, incentives alone couldn’t bring the desired results!
    Incentives could be in the form of front end or back end incentives that serve to bolster investments in priority areas of development.
    The government must come out with clear and unambiguous statements, sooner rather than later, on specific interventions that will not only draw investment funds that are inexorably linked to job creation!
    I believe that The Gambia has all the smart and sound minds at the Ministries of Trade, Finance and Economic Affairs that are quite capable of coming up with well thought out strategies targeting Trade, Agriculture and Investment.
    Or were they all asleep at the wheel all the while with the notion that Yaya wasn’t gonna budge?
    Fallacious, I’d say! They should be much smarter at their level.
    It’s about time as so much water has gone under the bridge already!
    In the modern world, when one goes hat in hand, certainly one is also required to have a game plan under the sleeve!
    So, are we dealing with a blank canvas or a blank slate MIKE??
    I’m starting to get fidgety!!

  4. Andrew;

    Good intentions and creative minds should never be under valued/

    I think you have read what we have said consistently online. I can only agree with you and anyone who thinks and writes positively.

    Commercial experience begats consistency/

    Doing the right comercial things consistently based on experience/ knowledge and sound policies Begats profitability/ employment/ and increased tax revenue and citizens less dependant on the State.

    A breed of super confident entrepreneurs who have tasted success and can survive all commercial challenges.

    Sir Michael Heseltine’s creation of the One Stop Shop where budding business builders can benefit from Grants/ Training/ and expert support.

    “from small acorns do big oak trees grow”

  5. // and don’t get fidgety// its only your creative juices telling your brain>>. I want to succeed and begin the journey to unfettered wealth and an amazing lifestyle.

    ” I didn’t get rich because I wanted to be wealthy.

    I got rich because I didn’t want to be poor “

  6. Certainly, developing our most valuable resources make economic sense particularly in the climate of Brexit. This may well propel the Gambia to economic prosperity provided there is an effective legal system which nurtures the business-friendly environment required. However, from another perspective, the hegemony seems to be scrambling for our resources and political influence. As the Chinese undertake the refurbishment of the State House providing business opportunities for preferred contractors, the French focuses on the training of Senegalese troops hoping for future business or a political reward in the corridors of the United Nations? Politics is what hegemony powers deploy to assert their dominance, and also advance their economic interests, not by any legal means. This explains why there is an often idealised contrast between international law and international politics, one reflecting reason and justice, the other brute power. Let’s hope the government smartly plays politics in the face of that brute power to advance Gambian‘s interests.
    Great suggestions

  7. Tsm;

    So eloquently put.. I have every confidence in Gambian’s to place the best “horses for courses” This when winners flow consistantly.

    To put wisdom behind want always ends badly/

    Lets stay positive !

  8. the Gambia needs your advice and qualities to guide on the right route