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Published On: Fri, Sep 16th, 2022

President Barrow Addresses The SONA 2022 legislative year

The president of the Republic of The Gambia on Thursday 15th September 2022 addresses the National Assembly on State of the Nation in accordance with section 77 (1) of the 1997 Constitution and Clause 24 (1) of the Standing Order of the National Assembly.

The president was expected to give an account of the developments, gains, and some of the challenges his government faced in the 2021-2022 Legislative Year. The address was also expected  to highlight the need to harness the insightful lessons learned so far for consolidation and planning, and cover all sectors, comprising the satellite institutions of the various Government Ministries in The Gambia. 

During the SONA, the president’s address focused mainly on critical issues and concerns requiring sustained attention for the development of the country; matters of national interest, and the themes was informed by the current national discourse, influenced principally by the people’s concerns and development aspirations; and the key issues embrace policy, programme and project interventions, legislative matters, and the needs and expectations.

In addressing the finance and economic affairs, president Barrow made emphasize that The Gambia’s total debt service payment in 2021 was GMD5.01 billion. Of this, GMD 1.9 billion was External Debt Service payment and GMD 3.1 billion was Domestic Debt Service payment. 2022 and that the debt service payment increased by 11.1 percent from GMD 4.5 billion in 2020 to GMD 5 billion in 2021 and that there is no Debt Service Suspension Initiative receipt, compared to the preceding year.

Moving to the agricultural sector, President barrow stated that last year, the Agriculture sector registered increases, above national average, in the production levels of crops, such as paddy, maize, millet, groundnut, and sesame which he said that as the per capita availability of these food items has increased, even though both population and demand increased. He also announces that his government plans to create a fund that will carry about 70% guarantee to the financial institutions for credit financing of agricultural investments by either individuals or SMEs.

Talking about the health sector the president said that over the last five years, his government successfully expanded and developed health care services, through improved infrastructure, personnel, and supplies, on a reformed health financing landscape. He however said that  they will see how the health sector will evolves, as the new National Health Policy (2021-2030) and the National Health Strategic Plan (2021-2025) will guide the sector’s activities.

Turning to the tourism  and culture sub-sector,  the president pointed out that in April of this year, the National Centre for Arts and Culture embarked on a Multimillion-Dalasi project geared towards “Strengthening National Capacities for Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) and Contributing to Sustainable Development in The Gambia, 2022-2024.” Funded by UNESCO and that the project aims at complementing efforts to safeguard our heritage.

President Barrow also touched on gender, children and social welfare stating that  Gender and women empowerment is a critical enabler of sustained and progressive development and that therefore, the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Welfare will table a Cabinet Paper on a national gender mainstreaming strategy. He also assured the speaker that they will remain steadfast to enhance the capacity of women in small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs) by scaling up the Women Enterprise Fund and he discloed that the Fund surpassed the targeted small and medium scale enterprises from 10,000 to 23,000 enterprises which he said is fully funded by the government GMD17 million.

President Barrow highlighted that his Government will formulated a National Social Protection Policy to be establish by 2035 in an inclusive, integrated, and comprehensive social protection system.

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