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City of Banjul
Thursday, October 29, 2020

GMC leader to gov’t: Give us bread and butter, not strategy plans

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Mai Fatty made this lamentation in a reaction directed at the minister for Lands and Regional Governments, following his ministry’s validation of its 2015-2020 plan and strategy last Saturday. 

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He branded the land ministry’s five-year development plan as among a series of mushrooming visions, which, in his words, include Vision 2016, Vision 2017, Vision 2020, and Vision 2025. 

The political leader said: “What our citizens require is practical action, not constant planning and strategising. The only preoccupation of this administration appears to be drafting strategy papers to fulfill the requirements of donor and lending institutions for funds procurements and disbursements. It has very little to show in terms of results. That explains why so far, all of its plans, programmes and strategies lack sustainability mechanisms.”

He added: “We propose the Local Government Minister and Ministry get [its] priorities right. We propose it restore those provisions that enabled and empowered true decentralisation, but were surgically excised out of the Local Government Act 2002. The amendments, instead of reinforcing local governance, stripped local authorities and municipalities of all powers in favour of a strangling central authority.”

Mai Fatty, a lawyer, recounted that prior to becoming a politician, he in 2003, participated in a World Bank funded open public consultations with local authorities such as chiefs, alkalolu and municipal agencies on the Local Government Act, 2002.

He pointed out: “One common thread was significantly established – people demanded greater democratic control of their resources with the power to make their own local decisions.

“The product of the consultation was to reflect the national consensus that would require a substantial amendment of the 2002 Act, or the promulgation of an entirely new legislation. Our professional, objective recommendations based on a nationwide grass-roots public consultations with stakeholders in towns and villages across the entire country, were submitted to the relevant authorities. What was the reaction and attitude of the government thereafter? The report and its recommendations were impliedly rejected through the government’s deliberate failure to consider the document.”

Mai went on to raise queries on the World Bank funded programme of decentralised governance and the empowerment of local authorities. According to him, Gambians are not interested in the proliferation of more plans, strategies, programmes or visions. 

“All we require is simple, practical solutions to our bread and butter issues,” he said. 

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