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Policy Convergence And Concerns

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Mai Ahmad Fatty, Part Leader Gambia Moral Congress

By: Hon Mai Ahmad Fatty

Make no mistake, good roads infrastructure network and accessible, affordable energy are critical enablers of national development. They are key catalysts of economic empowerment.

Over the past few years, The Gambia rehabilitated and built a few hundred kilometers of new roads and bridges and also connected hundreds of rural settlements to the energy grid. Without doubt, these will significantly contribute towards quality lifestyle but also help in the persistent fight against poverty. Decentralisation of the dividends of equitable development is not possible without opening up the interior of the country, connecting hundreds of rural communities to markets and with the expansion of rural elrctrification enable the sprouting of small businesses to propel indigenous entrepreneurship. It’s in our view, a road to economic sovereignty for rural dwellers with cross-cutting implications for the national economy and more.

The introdution of sustainable alternative green energy into the energy mix via solar technology, is visionary and the way to the future, so as to gradually but systematically reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. For these and many more reasons, we applaud the efforts of the State in this specific drive. These are priority projects for our Party too, and because they are being currently implemented by the State, we consider this particular variable an important point of policy convergence deserving our nod.

Notwithstanding, we have transparency concerns relating to award of contracts, procurement issues, costs, etc. Albeit, the projects are those as a Party, we would encourage for some of the reasons already cited, including the fact that its contained in our Platform.

In spite of the great importance we attach to infrastructure and energy expansion, as a Party, we believe these could be fully achieved and yet the essential element of inevitable reforms be also accorded practical attention, simultaneously. We would like to see greater concentration on institutional reforms, strengthening of public resource and finance management, accountability mechanisms (including consequences for non performance & poor performance), and more importantly a serious approach to curbing institutionalised corruption and corrupt practices.

We would like to see a total overhaul of the existing civil service because we believe it is outdated, over bloated, wasteful, corrupt and highly inefficient. As a Party, we would opt for a leaner, restructured, more professionally oriented, competent, more accountable and highly paid public service. Some of The Gambia’s main obstacles to progress is attributable to the structure and composition of the current public service. We acknowledge that it is a legacy issue and continues to serve as a liability that must be urgently resolved. It is not fit for purpose and requires very urgent reforms. A piece meal approach demonstrates a real misunderstanding and misappreciation of the enormity of the challenges.

We believe, as a Party, that government is not and cannot serve as an employment agency. Government should not and cannot be the hub of employment or business generation. To uphold this, is to truly misconstrue the proper functions of a government. Government is a facilitator, a regulator, an enabler and opportunities creator. It does so through laws, policies, systems and procedures, often via appropriate policy frameworks, interventions and mechanisms. It is the role of the private sector to create jobs but this is only possible with the right policy prescriptions implemented by the State.

Government facilitates the creation of job opportunities by the private sector through its economic & trade policies, management of the economy, the commitment of bureaucrats to deliver on the deliverables and targeted prioritisation of critical sectors capable of effecting a rupture. It entails team work and constructive collaboration with all three arms of government and across tiers of government. Efficient economic management should focus on empowering the private sector to grow and should lead to job creation and affordable living standards for the population. Public investment should reap value for money while leakages should be plugged as a matter of crusade.

Ad hoc approaches towards national development will not lead to sustained growth and may potential zap off the gains achieved through energy and roads infrastructure expansion.

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