The European Union vice president announced canceling some planned budget support to Gambia government three months after United Kingdom cut aid to the country.
Pic: Catherine Ashton, EU VP
Catherine Ashton said, the move is motivated by EU’s commitment to making sure Gambia government adheres to good governance, respects human rights and step up means to tackle corruption.
She made this revelation recently while addressing concerns raised by Jean Lambert, a Green Party Member of European Parliament (MEP) for London on measures being taken by EU to encourage Gambia government to respect human rights and fight against corruption.
European Union is a major development partner to Gambia, intervening in various sectors of development. It also offers budget support to Gambia.
For instance, in 2005 EU agreed to support Gambia’s National Transport Plan with an initial amount of €44M. And in January 2011, an additional €28M was injected into the financing of this transport plan, which seeks to improve the country’s road network.
An expert who prefers to be anonymous says, the canceling of planned budget support will affect Gambia’s economy, which relies heavily on support from development partners, such as EU.
Earlier in March this year, United Kingdom had also announced cutting aid to 16 developing countries, including Gambia amid undesired results.
Some analyst attribute British cutting of aid to unnecessary expenditure of scarce resources by President Jammeh when poverty remains high.
“It is quite evident that unless President Jammeh makes an immediate halt to his extravagant lifestyle and minimises the unnecessary expenditure that has now become the familiar hallmark of the regime, The Gambia will soon be on the road to become a yet another failed stat,” says Demba Ali Jawo, a veteran Gambian journalist.
Meanwhile, EU vice president said, the latest consultation between EU and Gambia government took place in Banjul in April 2011 and discussions focused on human rights, democracy and governance, drugs, regional stability and economic development.
“The Gambian side made a certain number of timid openings regarding freedom for political parties to hold public rallies and independent investigation into two murder and disappearances cases. This now needs to be monitored,” Madam Catherine Ashton said.
She said, for now, EU has cancelled some planned budget support to Gambia government.
According to her, the European Commission is now re-programming its aid, including a governance project, which will address access to justice, media and public finance management.
“A second trance of this project in 2012 may encompass criminal justice (drugs and traffic in human beings), and a specific support of United Nations High Commissioner for Huamn Rights programme in The Gambia including reinforcing of The Gambia National Human Rights Commission,” Catherine said.
Mr Alieu Badara Ceesay, the Campaign Officer of Campaign for Human Rights in The Gambia (CHRG- UK) described the move as important since Gambian authorities appears to be shying away from giving the true picture of the situation in the country.