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Finance Minister presents new bills to National Assembly

Aug 20, 2014, 9:39 AM | Article By: Njie Baldeh

Minister of Finance and Economics Affairs, Kebba Tourary, Tuesday presented three bills to the National Assembly namely, the Public Finance Bill 2014, The Gambia Public Procurement Authority Bill 2014 and Security Moveable Bill 2014.

The Public Finance Bill 2014, among other things, seeks to strengthen the mandate and functions of the Accountant General’s Department.

Minister Touray further announced that the Treasury Directorate is to be renamed the Accountant General’s Department.

He said the bill has two main parts, one dealing with budget management and accountability matters and the second part dealing with public debt management matters.

The Finance minister added that the provisions of the bill related to budget management form part of the financial management reforms that are currently ongoing throughout the government, and are aimed at strengthening the public financial management function.

“In order to ensure a smooth implementation of these reforms, it has become necessary to enact an updated public finance law to provide greater control over the utilization of public resources and funds”, he continued.

The bill enhances the controls relating to public expenditure; provides for the introduction and maintenance of efficient financial management systems; caters for the requirements of maintaining computerized financial management systems, given the implementation of IFMIS during the past years; and seeks to introduce an internal audit department.

The second part of the bill on public debt management matters reflects the government’s desire to reform its debt management strategy and law.

According to the minister, the government in collaboration with the World Bank did undertake a review of the state of public debt management in the country.

“One of the recommendations of the review was the need to develop a public debt management law for The Gambia.”

Thus, among others, the objects of the bill are: the introduction and implementation of modern financial management practices in the management of public funds and resources; to meet people’s increasing demand for transparency and accountability in the use of public funds and resources; to legalize changes in the approach to public financial management that have been under way in the recent past; and, to keep abreast with international good practices.

The bill also prescribes the conditions under which the state, local government authorities and public enterprises may borrow; and the central bank may issue state debt securities.

It also prescribes the conditions under which the state may issue guarantees, lend funds and enter into supplier’s credit agreements and finance lease agreements.

The Gambia Public Procurement Authority Bill 2014 seeks to remove the prior review (of procurement processes) function from the GPPA and place the onus on MDAs and the Major Tender Board to conduct procurement activities.

“GPPA’s focus will now be on conducting post review exercises and capacity development for MDAs”.

According to the minister, another reason for the procurement reform “is to provide the right of appeal against procurement decisions by establishing an independent complaints review board. Representatives of the public and private sector, as well as civil society will sit on the board.

The Movable Property Bill 2014 relates to the fact that financial institutions in the country “only accept immovable assets such as land, building, machinery etc, as collateral for extending credit because that is all the current law caters for”.

Finance Minister Touray announced that “the new Act provides for movable assets such herd of cattle, Jewelry, valuable antiques etc, to be accepted by financial institutions as collateral”.

The objective is to expand opportunities for credit; improve the business environment; and, provide a legal basis for financial institutions to accept such assets as collateral.

The Act provides for a register of movable property security instruments at the central bank of The Gambia.

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