Lamin Jahateh, Banjul
The National Assembly of The Gambia is currently seeking, from both local and international donors, an amount of $14,388,097 representing 55% of the total amount of $26,253,812 that they need to finance the ‘Strategic Investment and Development Plan of the National Assembly 2009 – 2014’.
The other 45% is to be financed by the government of The Gambia.
In other to raise funds to finance this five year programme, the National Assembly on Wednesday held an official resource mobilization, dubbed donors’ roundtable conference, at Kairaba Beach Hotel, geared towards soliciting the support of donors and development partners in implementing the first ever Strategic Investment and Development Plan of the National Assembly.
However, the total financial pledge that was made public at the occasion was less than $1 million, most of which is from local institutions and individuals. This is due to the fact whilst there are many international donors, in the country, who work in the field of governance, the number of donors working specially on the issue of parliamentary development is limited. Also, majority of these donors are bilateral donors who may or may not be active in promoting good governance in The Gambia.
Delivering the keynote address on behalf of the President, the Vice President, Dr. Aja Isatou Njie-Saidy, said the government has always been fully committed for a vibrant, robust and pro-active legislative that is responsive to the needs and aspirations of the Gambian people.
Though no international donors, present at the occasion, made any significant pledge, the Vice President applauded them saying “your support and contribution in virtually all the sectors of The Gambia’s economy, including notably, the support you give or, are willing to additionally give towards strengthening legislature and governance, has our recognition.”
The VP said the Investment and Development Plan is one that sums up in a single documentation the strategic direction that the government wish to follow, to promote lasting excellence in parliamentary functions and capabilities.
“The development of such a Strategic Plan, which is by our standard, holistic and reflective of our needs, is therefore very important. It is also very timely in that its implementation will become an added impetus to the huge capital investments that my Government has undertaken in recent times for the National Assembly,” she said, adding: “The most notable example here is, the ongoing construction of a multi-million dalasi, state-of-the-art National Assembly complex in the city of Banjul. This complex, when completed will be second-to-none in Sub-Saharan Africa.”
She disclosed that the government has demonstrated attention to the National Assembly by effecting an increase in budgetary allocation to the National Assembly from D3 million in 1996 to around D40 million as at January, 2011.
The Speaker of the National Assembly, Hon. Abdoulie Bojang, said the total cost of the Strategic Development and Investment Plan, which is over $26 million, includes the building and resourcing of new-state-of-the art National Assembly, to which the government of The Gambia has already provided funds for up to $10 million.
At the end of the programme, some local institutions and individuals has pledged in cash and kind including capacity building programmes and technical services to the National Assembly. The pledged was open by Minister of Justice, Edu Gomez, who pledges D5000, though he is yet to fulfilled a D10,000 pledged he made to the Young Journalist Association of the Gambia since the first quarter of 2010.
The Gambia Bankers Association, pledges D500, 000; Social Security and Housing Finance Cooperation (SSHFC) D300, 000; National Water and Electricity Company (NAWEC) D500, 000; Action Aid - The Gambia D100, 000; Pro-Poor Advocacy Group pledges capacity building package for the Parliamentarians for the next five years to the tune of D500, 000.
Mass Axi Gai, Gambia’s Ambassador to Guinea Bissau pledges D2000; KMC Mayor Yankuba Colley D2000 and Matarr Baldeh of Education for All Initiative pledges to give D1000 annually for five years.
The National Assembly’s five years Investment Plan, which if fully funded, is expected to strengthening the capacity of the National Assembly to deliver its core functions and to ensure that legislations proposed by the government are scrutinized in a transparent manner.