By Aisha Tamba
The EU will continue to give The Gambia the necessary budget support it needs but only if the country continues to make changes essential to public finance management reforms and fight corruption.
This was according to Enya Braun, project manager on political governance at EU Commission Gambia, who was speaking at a two-day training for CSOs on security sector reform process in The Gambia.
He reminded the gathering that more than D1 billion (€25m) budget support was given to the country at the beginning of the year.
“This greatly helps the government to balance its budgetary situation,” he said. “The EU is using many different instruments to make this support effective – directly or through Ecowas.”
Ms Braun said 22 years of “authoritarian rule” has left its mark on the country.
“…Yet, the steps taken by both state and civil society within the transitional justice process signify that The Gambia is serious about reconciling the past in order to look to a better future. We are conscious that The Gambia still has many challenges to face. Among those, the most pressing one is security. There can be no development without security. Therefore, till the end of August 2019, the EU is funding the Ecomig forces that are stationed in The Gambia,” she stated.
She acknowledged that the financial situation inherited from the previous regime is still “weighing heavily” on the national budget.
“As we stand, 9.9 percent of total expenditure of the country is going to the security sector, and 46 percent of the total public servants on the payroll are from the security personnel. Upon these facts, SSR processes should not be restricted to security forces, leaders and government,” she said.
According to her, the participation of all stakeholders in the reform process implies that national security policies and strategies are developed through inclusive consultation processes.
She said the role of CSOs, media and National Assembly in security sector reform is paramount.
“A vibrant and engaged CSO network is crucial to effective and accountable SSR. The CSO community has already set a positive example in The Gambia and through the work undertaken in these workshops it shall position itself to be even more effective as advocates for the highest standards of SSR in the interests of the Gambian people. The EU stands ready to continue supporting these processes,” she declared.
The training recognised the need to enhance the knowledge and skills of participants on security sector governance, and promote non-confrontation civil security relations as well as local ownership.