Open Day on national budget held in URR

Dec 31, 2020, 12:33 PM

 A daylong forum on the 2021 National Budget was at the weekend held at the Regional Education Office Hall in Basse, Upper River Region.

The open day budget conversation was organised by Beakanyang Organisation with support from the International Republican institute, IRI.

It was attended by National Assembly Members from URR, Basse Area Councilors, Alkalolu, CSOs and media partners as well as LGA, citizens of URR (selected).

It activity was also to help participants know the link between human rights and the national budget.

In his welcome remarks, Executive Director of Beakanyang said that the national budget is the second most important national document for any country after the constitution.

“However, during the past authoritarian rule, there existed little or no public discourse around the budget and once tabled at the National Assembly, it gets approved by NAMs who were dubbed ‘rubberstamps’. From 2017 to date, since the new government took office, support from IRI to actors in the Executive, National Assembly, Civil society and media in building capacity and encouraging stakeholder dialogues has seen significant increase in understanding as well as participation of these actors in the budget process, especially the NAMs who now have capacity to thoroughly review and change the executive budget as they deem necessary,” he added.

The objective of the activity, he added, was to allow open dialogue amongst the relevant stakeholders on the national budget, with the aim of establishing increased dialogue on the budget among Gambian stakeholders around improvements achieved by the actors, gaps and challenges and recommendations for improvement, including how to encourage citizens’ participation in the budget process.

He added that civil society organisations including Beakanyang also continue to play their part in sensitising and carrying out advocacy around the budget but due to financial resources and access to remote areas of rural Gambia as well as the limited constituency outreaches by NAMs, Gambians in the remote areas have very limited opportunities to discuss the budget with these different actors, and how the budget affects their lives.

“Gambians since independence have suffered so many violations of their basic rights such as proper health care system, proper electricity supply, quality and safe drinking water and road connections especially for the rural communities. In addressing those challenges, the public especially, the young people need to have the required capacity to know the importance of the budget and having a basic understanding of the budget process especially at this crucial stage when the National Assembly recently passed the national budget for 2021,” he added.

He noted that the Open Day formed part of their efforts to increase the understanding and interest of the people in URR in the national budget.

For his part, Mr Foday Danjo, Chairman of Basse Area Council thanked Beakanyang and IRI for organising such an important activity in the region.

He urged participants to take the forum seriously noting that such forums could help the citizens to know why it is important for citizens to build interest and participate actively in the budget processes, including how they can participate in the process.

Speaking earlier, Hon. Sedia Jatta, the NAM for Wuli West shared the role of NA in the budget process and highlights in the 2021 budget including the oversight role of the NAMs in reaching the approved budget.

Deputising for the Governor of URR, Mr. Lamin Ceesay called on the residents of URR to build more interest in national budget formulation and execution.

According to him, such forums will avail participants the opportunity to share their priority needs and aspirations with National Assembly members.

The open floor discussion also accorded citizens of URR LGA the opportunity to share how they can input in the budget process for the development of their LGA.