By Kebba Jeffang
The government of the Gambia including the cabinet ministers and top civil servants concluded a 3 day retreat convergence during which they discussed key policies including a draft National Development Plan 2017 to 2020.
This event was supported by the United Nations Development Fund and it ran from Friday 5th to 7th May 2017 at a local hotel in Brufut.
Presiding over the opening on Friday, President Adama Barrow describes the retreat ‘very timely’ and indicated that it is the first in a series of capacity building and experience sharing platforms that the UN has committed to support.
He said the new Cabinet members and their technicians are working hard to finalize and align the vision as contained in the Coalition 2016 Election Manifesto with the new National Development blueprint.
President Barrow recalled that: “We have inherited many challenges including a low performing public service, lack of accountability as well as a credible policy direction, that have understandably led to growing frustrations of the population, particularly the youths. However, these challenges provide the opportunity for an urgent reform of our systems and structures as well as attitudes so that together, we can usher in higher output, greater democracy and economic growth.”
He continued: “We have come from a painful past especially in the last two decades in which we hurt each other in many different ways. While I strongly believe in the healing power of reconciliation and forgiveness, it is important to underscore the reality that justice must not only be served but in fact be seen to be done where necessary. However, what is urgently required of us is to unify the country around our transformative development agenda so that we can move speedily with our bilateral and multilateral partners to bring about socio economic development for our people,” said the President.
President Barrow noted that they need to take a moment to reflect on the Gambia that they wish to see their children grow up in and to identify the changes in attitudes and behaviours that will be required to bring about the new Gambia they promised. He said a culture of accountability will be a crucial start, so that national resources and those contributed by their partners are wisely invested. He said the ability to collaborate for the sake of national interest even in the heat of political competition will be equally crucial.
“The most important element is for the leadership to be exemplary, and as such we must demonstrate by our personal action a commitment to the highest standard of integrity and personal positive reform for the public to follow. The Gambia’s aspiration for inclusiveness that leaves no one behind and builds peaceful and strong communities across the country is vital to the success of our democracy,” he said.
He also ranked high the need to improve infrastructure, generate decent employment for people especially the youths and women, and by extension improve the standard of living of all Gambians.
“My government is committed to encourage and create spaces for collaboration, dialogue and constructive feedback from the people of the Gambia, who gave us the mandate to serve them. We are therefore pleased with the UN support to expand and entrench a culture of collaboration and dialogue among ourselves,” he said.