Deputies on Monday July 3rd 2017 gave their blessing to a loan after a lengthy debate and scrutiny of a loan agreement between the Saudi Fund for Development and the government of the Gambia for the rehabilitation of the second phase of the Banjul International Airport at the tune of 19 million US dollars.
The motion was tabled by the Hon minister of Finance Amadou Sanneh. The In his presentation Sanneh told the deputies that the loan is given at an interest rate of 1% per annum on the principal amount of the loan withdrawn and outstanding from time to time.
The term of the loan is 30 years including a (5) five-year grace period. The Hon minister considered this loan as best that one can get as the interest is next to nothing.
The loan among other things will be used to build an additional floor for offices at the arrival hall of the Airport and more equipment will be purchased for the control tower. The belt, restrooms and the lighting system also will be taken care of.
When the deputies were invited to comment on the loan agreement, a few of them said the amount was just too much for such a refurbishment. The member Busumballa Hon Saikuba Jarju was of the opinion that the amount in question was too much for a refurbishment and requested for clarification.
Hon Saikou Marong totally disagrees and said the said amount is just too much for rehabilitation. Hon Magassy of Basse and Hon Alagie Jawara of Lower Badibu also share the same views.
The Majority leader and leader of government business in the National Assembly Hon Kebba K Barrow urge the deputies to let the agreement see the light as it is a very reasonable loan and that it is meant to complete the first phase; he argued that failure to let the loan pass will be a waste of tax payers money as already money was spend on the first phase.
Hon Dawda K Jawara of the Upper Fulladou constituency argued that members should allow the agreement as our International Airport is a disgrace compared to others in the sub-region. He said Airports are also sources of revenue. He said one of the reasons why not many planes are landing at our Airport has to do with standards.
Hon Madi M.K.Ceesay for Serekunda West argued that airports just like the sea port are the first points of entry to any country and therefore leaves a permanent impression on visitors. If we want to attract more visitors we need to push our Airport to an accepted standard. Several other deputies contributed to the ratification of the loan agreement.
The Speaker Hon Mariam Denton Jack then call on the minister to respond to comment made by deputies. Minister Sanneh commended the deputies for their active participation and told deputies that this is one of the best in term of percentage.
He urged them not to only look at the figure but should put in perspectives; here he said we are talking of rehabilitati9ng our Airport he type of equipment are technical and thus expensive. He said we now live in a competitive world. He told the MPs that we are competing with our brothers in the sub-region Senegal and Guinea Bissau.
He told MPs that our Airport was about to be black listed due to [poor standard and if that happen we will lose a lot of our tourist to Senegal or Guinea Bissau and that will mean a great losses of jobs for our youths, women and local craft markets.