By Awa Macalo
The National Authorizing Office – System Support Unit (NAO-SU) under the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs on Thursday held a three-day training of parliamentarians on budget analysis, review and scrutiny. The intensive training, supported by European Union, intends to create capacity-building services to the National Assembly with a view to enabling members develop understanding on how their role in budget scrutiny and oversight impacts the economic growth and sustainable development of The Gambia.
In his remarks, the lead trainer Dominic Mendy, highlighted that the National Assembly Members have a crucial role to play in decision making and having such a discourse will enhance their understanding of the national budget, skills and the ability to interrogate and derive the issues related to the budget.
“You are extremely important and powerful and by default responsible. I know that this process of yours requires a unique stakeholder in the MoFEA with whom you will be both friend and foe as you work together, but you are condemn to working together on this subject matter, and therefore you must find ways of cooperation and where necessary, controlled different exemplified in a baseline professional and technical relationship agreeable to both of you,” he said.
The councillor and Deputy Head of Delegation of EU to The Gambia, Else Boonstra, said Gambian citizens have been expecting reforms since the change of government that will encourage ethical leadership, the good governance principles of democracy, and an entrenched culture of accountability and transparency in which the National Assembly has a part to play.
“To be able to discharge these duties effectively, it is important to have a solid foundation of knowledge in terms of procedures, roles and knitty-gritty, This training today aims to help lay those foundations, and this is why we are here today and tomorrow: to further enhance your capacities when it comes to the scrutiny of the national budget,” she concluded.
The minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Mambury Njie, urged all members to take advantage of this training session. “It is my expectation that at the end of the training, the Hon. Members shall be equipped adequately with robust skills and techniques to enable them better understand the budget when it is laid before; understand what constitutes public policy and establish its linkages to the budget,” he explained.
Speaker of the National Assembly, Mariam Jack Denton, expressed the timeliness of the training. “The annual estimates of the revenue and expenditure of The Gambia, and Standing Order 85, in particular, calls for the strict observance of the provisions of Standing Orders 81 to 94 in the transaction of financial business in the Assembly,” she said.
She said the clear loss of revenue, operational setbacks, missed targets and opportunities brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic on the global economy, the timeliness of this training cannot be overemphasized. “I would like us to remind ourselves that the National Assembly attaches enormous importance to issues relating to the national budget and the overall financial activities or engagements of this country.”