Although President Adama Barrow slashed the budget allocated for his office and the first family by D475 million Dalasis ($11.9 million Dollars), it supersedes that of agriculture.
Agriculture department also saw cuts in its budget and lawmakers expressed “serious concerns” about the cuts to the critical economic sector.
The president’s office has nearly three times more funding than agriculture, budget summary documents seen by SMBC indicate.
According to the revised budget presented to the National Assembly, D731.65 million Dalasis ($18.29 million Dollars) has been allocated to the president’s office and D275.87 million Dalasis ($6.99 million Dollars).
Barrow’s slashing of the allocations to the presidency was welcomed but there are calls for further cuts and more increases for agriculture and tourism, the top two earners for the country’s GDP.
Tourism has only D22.56 million Dalasis ($564,000 Dollars) allocated to it, a figure that has dismayed economists.
Despite the primary role of the agriculture sector in the economy, its performance and share in most key socio-economic indicators in the past decade have not been consistent, and in some years, performance in production stagnated or even declined.
Low private investment, especially in value added, declining international agricultural commodity prices; soaring prices of food commodities and essential production inputs; inadequate domestic policies, institutional support and investment in the sector has hit the sector hard.
The cuts to agriculture, which will affect subsidies to farmers is worrying legislators, who shared deep concerns about food security, hunger and rise in food cost.
Production of food commodities for local consumption heavily depends on the weather.
The country produces about 50 percent of its domestic requirements.
The country relies on rice imports from the international market to cover its consumption needs, and food prices are strongly affected by the exchange rate of the Dalasi.
Soaring international food prices and low national production are leading to high inflationary pressure on the domestic food market, eroding the purchasing power of urban and rural consumers.
(Reporting and Writing by Sam Phatey; Additional Reporting from FAO, WFP, IMF and World Bank)