State House, Banjul, February
A special cabinet session presided over by President Adama Barrow yesterday adopted three important papers, including an $80million loan agreement that targets over 40,000 households, and a $29.8million rice value chain project.
The session also adopted a cabinet paper and the operationalisation of a Single Treasury Account (STA) for government. This account is a consolidated account for all government agencies and departments, and will be maintained at the Central Bank of The Gambia.
The first loan and grant agreement that cabinet discussed and adopted was between The Gambia and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (Ifad) for the financing of Resilience of Organisations for Transformative smallholder agriculture project (RoOTS).
The objectives of the project focus on creating accessible markets, improving the participation of women and rural youth in farming activities by establishing and strengthening 40 women kafolu, six new cooperative societies and 240 youth-led small businesses and also to train female entrepreneurs in vegetable and rice production record keeping and business management to enable them to operate their businesses in a sustainable manner.
The project will be implemented five regions: Central River Region, North Bank Region, Lower River Region, West Coast Region and Upper River Region.
In these regions, 39 districts have been selected based on indicators related to poverty, vulnerability, remoteness, quality and scale of infrastructure and harmonisation with other donor-supported programmes.
The direct beneficiaries of this project are approximately 40,000 households representing over 10 per cent of the population of which 80 per cent are women and the remaining percentage reserve for youth and persons living with disabilities. The total project cost is 80 million dollars.
Cabinet also discussed and adopted a partly loan and a partly agreement presented by the Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs between The Gambia, the Islamic Development Bank and the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (Badea) for the financing of the regional rice value chain development project.
The project development goal is to pave the way for private sector participation in rice production processes through community agreements that are endorsed by the government as well as strengthen farmer organizations so that they will serve as the entry point to reach farmers and to provide services in a sustainable manner. The project if implemented effectively will enhance the home-grown school feeding program and boost the income level of farmers especially women who are traditional rice growers in The Gambia.
The objectives of the project mainly focus on developing regional network of seed developers constituted by the national agricultural research centers, develop farmer-market linkages with ICT based solutions that accelerate outcomes of agricultural value chains which target smallholder farmers and set out to establish regional knowledge platforms for learning, exchange of information as well as policy coordination.
The total project cost is estimated to be $29,800,000 of which $17,300,000 will be distributed by the Islamic Development Bank, $2,500,000 to be contributed by the borrower and the remaining $10,000,000 will be serviced by Badea as part of the financing agreement.
The third paper presented by the Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs was for the immediate establishment and operationalisation of a Treasury Single Account (TSA) for the Government of The Gambia. The Treasury Single Account is a unified structure of bank accounts where all government funds would be consolidated. The single treasury account will be held at the Central Bank of The Gambia.
Each entity shall maintain a national account supported by ledger, which shall record all transactions.
The purpose of establishing the treasury single account is primarily to ensure accountability of government revenue, enhance transparency and avoid misappropriation of public funds. The maintenance of a Treasury Single Account will help ensure proper cash management by eliminating idle funds usually left with different commercial banks and in a way enhance reconciliation of revenue collection and payment.
The Treasury Single Account would cover all ministries, departments, and subvented agencies as well as government self accounting projects. It excludes, for the time being, state-owned enterprises and funds such as the Social Security Fund, though government has a fiduciary responsibility for these funds.