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The retreat as a way forward

Jul 9, 2014, 9:46 AM

It is in the news that the councilors and staff of the Banjul City Council, BCC, are holding a “retreat” at city hall in Banjul this week.

The exercise is said to be the first of its kind ever held by the city council in Banjul; and is a recommended good practice.

It is common knowledge that the councils raise revenue through the collection of property rates and various types of fees paid to them by businesspeople and organizations operating within their areas of jurisdiction.

There is a requirement to plough back at least 60 per cent of revenue collected to the community, in the form of services such as the cleansing service, provision of street lights, public standpipes and so on.

We recall the social audit exercise, organised by the National Assembly, which held the exercise in the regions, where the MPs gave the people there a good chance to participate.

We recommend that every area and municipal council, being elected bodies too, be encouraged to hold a similar exercise periodically.

In any case, public institutions such as our municipal and area councils should be holding “social audits” where they subject themselves to public examination of their work and performance.

There should also be regular “internal audits”, where they examine their work and performance, in the spirit of criticism and self-criticism, in order to ensure that they are delivering based on the expectations of the electorate.

We see the design of the retreat at city hall in Banjul as an exercise to ensure the accountability of the municipal council to the people.

Indeed, taking the cue from the retreats held by the Cabinet, it would be a good practice for senior staff of public institutions to hold regular retreats as well.

That organizations, including governments and governmental bodies, should have an annual work plan is another recommended good practice in management.

What happened to the concept of national development planning?

It was resurrected for some time, and then quietly dropped, its apparent; since nobody hears about government planning and about the structures that were being put in place, such as the ministry of Finance and Economic Planning.

There is no doubt that planning has its merits, as seen from the fact that it facilitated the progress made in most advanced countries.

“Governments that block the aspirations of their people, that steal or are corrupt, that oppress and torture or that deny freedom of expression and human rights should bear in mind that they will find it increasingly hard to escape the judgement of their own people, or where warranted, the reach of international law”.

William Hague

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