By Kebba Jeffang
The Gambia government with local and international stakeholders on July 25, held a rigorous review of the proposed National Development Plan (NDP) that will serve as guidance to the country’s operation from 2018 to 2021.
The document was presented by the lead consultant Dr. Ahmed Tijan. B. Jallow. Cabinet ministers made follow up presentations to picture out the challenges and the way forward for their various ministries.
Mr. Amadou Sanneh, Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs described the moment as a critical point in the preparation of the national development plan with the completion of the revised draft.
“The NDP is the vehicle through which we seek to define the strategies and actions to pursue in order to address the host of economic and social challenges that we inherited after 22 years of poor political and economic governance under the last regime,” he said.
Sanneh added that the document will set the template to guide them as they seek to deliver on their promise of good governance, accountability and revitalized and transformed the economy for citizens.
He said they have taken a participatory and inclusive process with the involvement of the civil society groups, community based organisations, the coalition manifesto and the development priorities agreed at the recent cabinet retreat.
“Following the rich consultative process, the National Development Plan has identified eight strategic priority areas that we propose to focus on, to deliver on our key goals for the country over the next five years,” he said.
According to him, they include;
Good governance, human rights and security sector reform
Macroeconomic stabilization and economic management
Modernized agriculture, agribusiness and fisheries
Human capital-health, education and social protection
Infrastructure and energy
Tourism and culture
Youth empowerment and development
Private sector development and trade.
Fatoumatta Jallow Tambajang, Minister of Women’s Affairs said government is heavily indebted with an unemployment rate of 63 percent. She said the government has adopted social inclusion after the former regime broke down the social fabrics and her government is committed to build it again.
Mrs. Tambajang indicated that the newly constituted ‘Think-Tank’ is formed to support the government with a specific mandate to plan and make research on good policies for government. According to her, the ‘Think-Tank’ will be helping to create the Vision 2030 blue print for the Gambia.
However, she noted: “The Gambian people must be at the center of development planning and take it away from government and allies. We don’t want development plans to be done in Banjul under air-conditioned offices. We want it to be done at the most remote villages,” he said.
Ms. Ade Mamonyane Lekoetje, UN Resident Coordinator said the finalization of a National Development Plan for the country is the first step in the process of rebuilding the country. She said it will systematically address the numerous economic, social and environment challenges the country faces.
“This National Development Plan gives the government of the Gambia the opportunity to articulate its key development priorities, effectively manage its resources and strengthen policy coherence amongst the various sectors of the economy,” she said.
She informed that the UN system initiated the process of formulating the medium term NDP for 2018 to 2021 that replaces the Progarmme for Accelerated Growth and Employment (PAGE).
The ministers of Finance, Agriculture, Energy, Tourism, Lands, Education, and Health, all made presentations while Justice, Works, Trade and others were represented. The public comments followed their presentations which were considered by the lead consultant, as part of the review process.