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ECONOMYWATCH: Promoting Public-Private Partnership through PAGE Investment Opportunities

Dec 11, 2013, 9:49 AM | Article By: Osman Kargbo

Players in the public and private sector have continued to brainstorm on the essence of promoting public private sector partnership to achieve the goals of the Programme for Accelerated Growth and Employment (PAGE) put in place by the Gambia government for poverty reduction through job and wealth creation.

In a one-day forum held yesterday at the Kairaba Beach Hotel in Senegambia, on the theme: Promoting Public-Private Partnership through PAGE Investment Opportunities: “Awaking your investing Wisdom for National Development’, the Deputy Permanent Secretary in charge of Programmes and Projects at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs, stated: “This forum as the theme implies is to provide The Gambia’s private sector with an opportunity to participate in the process of elaboration, implementation and monitoring of the national development strategies and policies that should further strengthen sustainable development in the country.

DPS Juldeh Ceesay said the state and the private sector must play a complementary role in implementing the country’s long-term development plan, which is the PAGE) and Vision 2020 to ensure the realizationof planned strategiesto guarantee the structural transformation of the national economy.

“This will go a long way to move The Gambia from an emerging economy to a middle-income country by 2015.”

The forum attracted stakeholders from the public and private sectors, such as banks, insurance companies, development partners and the media.

Touching on some challenges posed by the external economy, the forum called for a robust financial picture and an optimistic forecast about the country’s capacity to finance its strategic visions and associated plans.

“These strategic areas are meant to foster a higher average productivity, improved employment generation and to foster spatial equity,” Mrs Ceesay said.

The discussions, inspired by the need to move The Gambia from a pre-emerging economy to a middle-income status, were interspersed with frank expressions of concern from the private sector participants particularly financial institutions.

The Government of The Gambia has re-echoed its call on the private sector to participate in national development, said Mod K. Ceesay, Permanent Secretary II of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs (MoFEA).

“This call is as a realisation of long held policy that identified the private sector as engine of growth,” he said. “For PAGE financing itself, the private sector is expected to contribute 30 per cent of the funding gap estimated at US$200 million.

Whereas this call has been made, PS Ceesay note government fully understands and appreciates every day challenges of the private in The Gambia.

“We are talking and holding interactive sessions with various segments of the business community; we are reading and tracking with keen interest the various indices such as the World Bank Doing Business reports, the M’O Ibrahim Good Governance index, the IMF surveillance reports among others and working every day to improve upon areas we are doing just okay and built on those we are doing well,” he said.

He said the public sector has responsibility to create the enabling environment, govern, provide social services, protection, and design good legislations and policies etc.

“In that context, the Ministry of Finance & Economic Affairs will continue on the path of public financial management reforms, and tax administration reforms, fiscal policies that are business friendly and supportive of our thriving private sector,” he said, adding:“The Ministry is putting in place a PPP cell that would be responsible for design of PPP policies, identification and processing of PPP projects, facilitate PPP financing through resource mobilization.”

One of the greatest challenges for PPP is financing, PS Ceesay noted, but said: “The type of banks and banking instruments available are not only unsuitable but also inappropriate for PPP financing and investment. We must find innovative ways to pooling resources and design bank products suitable to address the financing problem.

“Having said that we have to start somewhere little and in small ways such as the emergence of the small-scale PPPs…”

Other speakers at the forum were Beatrice Prom, Manager Corporate Services, GCCI; Alhaji Fadera, Director of Planning, MoFEA; Ousainou Sarr, Technical Specialist, Child Fund International, The Gambia; Dr Momodou Mustapha Fanneh, Assistant Professor, University of The Gambia; and Samba Sallah, manager, Project Development and Appraisal, GIEPA.

The panel discussion was moderated by Abdoulie Touray of Sahel Investment.