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Saturday, October 16, 2021

‘Most Gambians want budget to prioritise agriculture’

By Nyima Bah

Gambia Participates in partnership with the International Republican Institute organized a 2-day stakeholders’ dialogue on the budget allocation for 2022.

The sessions, held at the International Conference Centre in Bijilo, was designed under the slogan #thebudgetwewant, to provide full participation of citizens on their priorities to ensure their needs and aspirations are addressed through the national budget.  

According to a survey dubbed citizens voices on priority areas for the 2022 national budget, majority of interviewees mentioned agriculture as a priority area which should be given due attention and better funding to boost the country’s drive towards food self-sufficiency and curb unemployment.

“Twenty-four out of forty-two interviewees say their priority is agriculture. Increased spending in agriculture will help boost economic activity, address food insecurity and youth unemployment as well as irregular migration and crime. Some of the interviewees decry lack of adequate support from the government in the face of erratic rainfall,” the report noted. 

A total of 43 people, including 7 women, 3 differently abled persons and 17 youths from diverse socio-economic and cultural backgrounds took part in the survey.  

Marr Nyang, executive director of Gambia Participates highlighted that national budget does not solve the problems of the citizenry if it is created without putting into context the wishes and aspirations of the masses.

“Our budget system is not transformative. It just maintains the same trend and if you want to change the status quo, you have to come up with a budget that would transform the lives of people in different sectors. The health care system has to be transformative and upgraded, the same thing goes for education and infrastructural development,” he said.

Binta Touray, programme officer at the International Republican Institute, disclosed that IRI has been supporting the reform agenda of the government including a project on fiscal transparency.

“We are here to support Gambia Participates because they are a local civil society organization, engaged in government accountability and transparency. So, our project is basically supporting stakeholders to ensure that there is transparency in the management of fiscal public finance. We all know the national budget is the most important document after the constitution, so it is good that citizens understand their roles in the entire budget processes.”

Madam Touray hailed the executive and the legislature for playing their parts in supporting civil society to be involved in the budget process and also fostering the relationship between government and civil society.

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