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Parliament ratifies $15 million US grant

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By Awa Macalo

The National Assembly on Thursday unanimously approved a US$15 million grant from United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

The grant initially amounting to US$2 million with a possible increment to US$ 15million is subject to the availability of the funds at USAID and upon written notice to the government.

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The grant is aimed at strengthening The Gambia’s democracy, peace and stability within the country.

Finance Minister Mambury Njie told parliamentarians that the grant will expand, protect and strengthen The Gambia’s democratic progress by enhancing the agency of both citizens and civil society, and reinforce institutional and human capacity within the branches of the government.

“It will also protect and promote the advancement of civic and political rights in The Gambia by enabling civic actors to exercise and promote their civil and political rights safely and securely,” he said.

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Minister Njie further asserted that in order to attain these objectives, some key activities must be implemented. These include human rights sensitivity; ethics and anti-corruption training with legal professionals potentially in partnership with relevant local CSOs and actors; capacity building of civil society and media entities to monitor and evaluate the impact of draft or enact legislation, including how legal and regulatory frameworks affect the ability of men, women, religious and ethnic minorities and persons with disability to participate in civic and political activities.

After consenting to the grant, most of the National Assembly Members urged government to rigorously implement the grant to ensure it serves its purpose.

Saikouba Jarju from Busumbala, said: “The country has received grants and projects from different donors, but what happens to these projects at the end is mostly disheartening. We have seen project sites abandoned [after the project is phased out]. For this grant to be effective, it must serve its purpose and it will be necessary if the minister could periodically update us on how the grant is being utilised.”

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