By Fatoumatta K Jallow
The Ministry of Finance in Collaboration with the International Republican Institute (IRI) on Friday 29th March 2019, with various Stakeholders launched the Gambia 2019 Citizen’s budget.
The Citizen Budget document is the simplified version of the 2019 National Budget aimed at promoting understanding of the budget and its processes to ensure citizens are well-informed about government execution of public funds.
The launch was meant to hold constructive dialogue with relevant stakeholders regarding the budget process and different actors involved in the budget process.
The event brought together National Assembly members, Officials from the Ministry of Finance, IRI officials, Members of Civil Society, the Media among other stakeholders from both the public and private sector.
The Citizen Budget states the total budget of 2019 is up to 25.6 Billion dalasis.
This document, which entails infographics will help to create a better understanding of ordinary citizens on the budget. It can help enhance citizens’ interest on the budget and their participation on the budget formulation processes.
Mambury Njie Minister of Finance said Citizen Engagement in the budget process creates an opportunity to give a voice to citizens and enable them to participate as informed stakeholders. He added that it also creates avenues to hold Government accountable for public spending which in turn makes the government more transparent.
The Finance Minister underscored that “civil society has a critical role to play in the government budget processes”, adding “they can inform the decision-making process to ensure that public resources are being used effectively to meet public needs.”
He said they can also monitor the actual execution of budget programmes which reduces the opportunity for corruption and mismanagement.
He noted that the 2019 Citizens budget of The Gambia explains the contents of the national budget in a simplified language; with the aim of promoting understanding of the budget and budget process.
“It also details how government plans to raise the needed revenues to implement its programmes to help improve the living standard of Gambian” and his Ministry has taken other steps to ensure the budget process is more participatory.”
In conclusion he said the dialogue will also create an important opportunity to enhance budget transparency and strengthen citizens’ participation in the budget process.
Robina Namusisi Resident Program Director of IRI said as part of its legislative strengthening programs, IRI has provided guidance on legislative processes and oversight to the National Assembly. Specifically, she added IRI has implemented programming that fostered engagement between NAMs and their constituents.
“IRI also supported the civil society’s ‘Know Your Budget’ campaign ahead of the vote on the 2018 national budget and subsequently took members of the Public Accounts Committee on a fiscal transparency and budget oversight study tour to Ghana.”
She said they are currently implementing programs aimed at strengthening fiscal transparency, enhancing political pluralism and tolerance, and increasing the capacity of the National Assembly to effectively engage in democratic law making in The Gambia.
In conclusion she said their interest in supporting activities around fiscal transparency, is to build around the argument that if there is fiscal transparency, then the government will have the required resources to implement the reforms promised to the Gambian people during the 2016 election campaigns.