The Point (Banjul)

24 April 2014

Gambia: Protecting the People Is a Sacred Duty

editorial

In the last edition of The Point, we carried an article about the prospect of a US$1 trillion African agri-business sector.

Today we publish, again for the information and education of our readers - including our decision-makers and public policy makers - another article; this time, about how policies we adopt could foster rather than reduce inequality and poverty in our society.

Indeed, the contents of this article should be well-digested, and be food for thought, at a time when we are putting so much emphasis on agriculture; and, at a time when there are moves to amend the Labour Act 2007 and the GIEPA Act, among others, just to make them more investor-friendly.

Having heard the policy statements made by government officials, involved in these processes - amending the Labour Act, for example, it is clear that, never mind the fine rhetoric, the end result would be an erosion of worker protection in this country.

After-all, employers who have seen how workers have been winning cases that come before the industrial tribunal, are complaining, and they must be kept happy.

We feel it is important to call attention to the imperative to bear in mind the negative impact of some of the policies we may pursue on the vulnerable sections of our population, such as farmers and workers, who form the vast majority.

Definitely, however much we want to score higher GDP marks, this must not be at the expense of ensuring adequate social protection for the people.

Thus government officials and their technicians, who give then advice, must beware that their first duty is to protect the people.

They also have a responsibility not to pursue policies which require the masses to "help create a wealth they will never see."

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