By Adama Tine
Gambia Participates in partnership with the International Republican Institute on Wednesday held a 2-day stakeholders and media practitioners dialogue on the budget allocation for 2022.
The two-day dialogue is being held at the International Conference Centre in Bijilo designed under the slogan #thebudgetwewant, to provide full participation of citizens on their priorities to ensure their needs and aspirations are addressed through the national budget.
A total of 42 people, including seven women, three differently able persons and 17 youths from diverse socio-economic and cultural backgrounds took part in the survey.
Following a thorough survey dubbed citizens voices on priority areas for the 2022 national budget, majority of Gambians mentioned agriculture as a priority area which should be given maximum attention and better funding to boost the country’s drive towards food self-sufficiency and curb unemployment.
“Twenty-four out of forty-two interviewees said their priority is agriculture. Increased spending in agriculture will help boost economic activities, address food insecurity and youth unemployment as well as irregular migration and crime. Some of the interviewees decry lack of adequate support from the government in the face of erratic rainfall,” the report revealed.
Marr Nyang, executive director of Gambia Participates explained that the national budget does not solve the problems of the citizenry if it is created without putting into context the wishes and aspirations of the masses. He said the budget system is not transformative but maintains the same trend, noting that if you want to change the status quo, you have to come up with a budget that would transform the lives of people in different sectors.
According to him, the health care system has to be transformative and upgraded as well as education and infrastructural developed.
Binta Touray, programme officer at the International Republican Institute (IRI) disclosed that they have been supporting the reform agenda of the government including a project on fiscal transparency. She said IRI is here to support Gambia Participates because they are a local civil society organization, engaged in government accountability and transparency. “Our project is basically to support stakeholders to ensure that there is transparency in the management of fiscal public finance. We all know the national budget is the most important document after the constitution, so it is good that citizens understand their roles in the entire budget,” she noted.