“The long-term economic plan” is a compelling refrain of ardent conservatives, who see themselves are saints of fiscal rectitude. For politicians who see themselves as defenders of the left, the economy is the thrilling, fizzing and splurging ground where they can play their politics. ‘It is the economy, stupid’, was the 1992 campaign slogan of Democratic and soft-left leaning US politician Bill Clinton. And this is as true today, as it was in 1992. The dynamics of local, regional and global economics is changing rapidly. Whilst the capitalism-inspired neo-liberal view the market as the cure of economic ills, supporting big corporate businesses thinking that they can create the jobs and boost growth, the global financial crash of 2008 exposed this for the dangerous con that it is: small, medium sized businesses that are employing people, treating workers splendidly but receiving little help for a global growth that benefit the few, were overlooked, weakening our economic fundamentals.
That is why the call of the Trade Minister, Abdou Jobe, to support local enterprises is important. Collectively, we should say ‘never again’ to the mistake that other countries have made. Let us make no mistake about it: the future growth of our countries’ economies lies in the small businesses that are sprouting up in all the regions of our country. From Bakau to Banjul, and from Sukuta to Sifoe Gambians are buzzing with business ideas. Some have gone beyond theoretical romanticizing to actually implementing their ideas into small businesses. That can be seen in the little shops, the mobile traders on our streets and the small traders around. They need all the support needed for them to thrive. For jobs to be created enterprises to flourish and people seeing their life dreams achieved, the conditions for this must be smoothened by government.
Full marks to our government for delivering on this. Through the Trade Ministry, many local enterprises working in our agriculture sector have been certified by the Hazardous Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP). This means that, because of the useful advice of the Trade Ministry officials on how to comply with international standards, many of our local businesses in the agriculture sector and food-processing that are burgeoning can now have access to the international market. The impact is huge for all: more revenue for our local firms, steady income for their workers, opportunity to grow their business and a revenue flow to our country’s Treasury. Therefore, President Jammeh should be thanked for championing business in our country: National Enterprise Development Initiative (NEDI) is set-up by his government to harness the entrepreneurial zest of Gambians. His is a government with a “long-term economic plan”.Let us tell him: ‘Jarama’ for his foresight! And as for the entrepreneurs, they need to live the ethos, “to whom much is given, much is expected!”