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Published On: Sat, Sep 24th, 2022

Forum’s outcome will contribute to improve lives and livelihoods of Gambians-OSPG Chairman

Mr Ismaila Jarju, the Chairman of the Open Society Platform of the Gambia (OSPG) has revealed that the Saturday’s Stakeholders’ Dialogue on Maximizing Accountability Efforts outcomes will contribute to improve lives and livelihoods of the Gambian people and to enhance confidence and trust of the citizens in the government.

That OSPG and partners forming the Open Government Partnership Coalition, remain committed to achieve greater impact that a single institution can’t achieve alone. 

Mr Jarju was speaking during the Stakeholders’ Dialogue on Maximizing Accountability Efforts held on Saturday at the Metzy Hotel in Kotu in partnership with the National Audit Office, Accountant General and the National Assembly, organized by the OSPG.

However, the forum was with its objectives to increase public awareness on the fiscal transparency and accountability process that involved Audit General, Accountant General and National Assembly, to establish a network of champions from stakeholders and lead advocacy of timely audit within both local and central governments, to improve interagency collaboration within the government and enhance timely audit report as well to develop national plan of action that improve coordination and timely audit reporting.

However, the forum was expected with the outcomes of bringing stakeholders together to discuss issues related to the audit process through a stakeholder dialogue roundtable, the development of an action/ communiqué on the bigger steps needed such as processing an amendment to the Audit Act and Finance Act 2014, utilizing any opportunity  for reigniting the discussion on the pending draft 2020 Constitution among others and to enhance timeliness for publishing audit reports to be addressed, as that is what’s needed to enhance Gambia’s OGP eligibility.

In his welcoming remarks, Jarju outlined that this historic milestone in The Gambia’s journey to institutionalizing good governance, particularly accountability, transparency and inclusive reform processes remain elusive.

He noted that since there is need for vibrant fiscal transparency, institutions are working together to deliver their Constitutional and policy mandates.

He added that the gathering would also give them the opportunity to develop a joint road map for implementation with support from the country’s development partners like the World Bank, African Development Bank, IMF and others to ensure prudent financial transparency for the benefit of the Gambian people. 

Furthermore, he said the occasion was designed to support the Gambia government to take concrete steps to address some of the structural and policy challenges that will promote open governance in the Gambia such as interagency coordination, sharing information and working with Civil Society to address key national issues like fiscal transparency and tackling corruption and corrupt practices.

According to Jarju, the project was part of their larger portfolio of programs that aimed to enhance social accountability through active citizen participation such as Integrated Safeguard and Security (ISS) mechanisms monitoring of projects that OSPG is working with African Development Bank and World Bank

Since the inception of this initiative in January 2021 through the partnership with National Democratic Institute and in collaboration with other CSO as well as government agencies, he said a lot of advocacy engagements were conducted.

That it’s considered important to flag few gaps noticed during their advocacy engagement with government ministries and institutions, which include a back log of unaudited Government Accounts and late publication of Auditor General’s Reports, asset disclosure of pubic officers to the public, inclusive budgeting amongst other remain challenging.

He called on through the OSPG Coalition partners call on the government to act now to address these challenges so that the country can join her friends and neighboring countries like Senegal, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, etc. in the OGP family so that the country can be part of reformers in open governance as well as create lasting positive impact on the lives of our people we serve.

He called on the government and the National Assembly to enact the Anti-corruption Bill 2019 and operationalize the access to Information into law, to address corruption and to fulfill right to information as enshrined in the 1997 Constitution.

In his part, Hon. Alhagie Mbow, the vice Chairman and a member of the Finance and Public Accounts Committee who referred the stakeholders’ forum as national dialogue, he said the Parliament has been a key partner in all organizations in the country that are interested in scrutinizing and ensuring that there is accountability in public finance across the nation.

Adding that this was the reason they enacted laws that would also aid all stakeholders to ensure that they have the right information at the right time to able to affect their job. He said the Parliament has gone further to ensure that they budgeted for operationalization of access to information and had put in almost D10 Million to ensure the access to information is realized in the Gambia like other African countries.

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