A voice from the diaspora – As the Barrow government go about its ways trying to set up a functioning government, expectations continue to boil high from an impatient citizenry long marginalised from the fruits of their land. And with the ‘Coalition government’ taking over the vacuum of power in Banjul, the Gambian people have heavily invested their trust and faith in the Presidency of ‘Adama Barrow’ to lead them into the future. Although the public have every right to demand progress after 22 years of stalemate, it is way too early to be critical, or cynical. Gambians should also realise that the new leadership is barely through the door, and as such, should be allowed time to set-up-shop & to consult with development partners on their plans for the country before sharpening pen. 

Historically, empirical factors have led the urgent call for an independent scrutiny Office in a timeless vision for the Gambia. The agency shall be autonomous, giving out facts and true economic estimates. This promotes accountability so as to prevent the government from manipulating facts, and results and figures and GDP estimates to boost their favorability ratings and poll numbers. The creation of an independent body having access to the government’s economic policies and financial receipts shall allow the agency to forecast GDP growth rates, economic trends at both macro and micro-economic levels.

There is a vital need for stronger financial management expertise at the heart of government. As for the Gambia Bureau of Statistics, they have been politicised under Yahya Jammeh as another tool of APRC propaganda machine, thus unfit for purpose. An independent scrutiny body giving out expertise analysis on the wider Gambian economy makes sense & inspiring for the sort of future we all wish to build. The growth of Gambia’s economy to create jobs & prosper depends on so many factors – accountability with public policy & finances is a big part of that:

It is also worth remembering that the United Nations ‘Sustainable Development Goals’ blueprint is laid open for president Barrow to tailor it down to Gambia’s size. Every sector of society must be prioritised, and every Gambian should be a priority. In London and elsewhere – Finance Ministers seem quite obsessed with interest rates & balanced budgets, but this seems unrealistic in this day and age with so much uncertainty around the global economy. What the Gambia requires, however, is a steady hand, with vast global experience in macro finance in the capacity of ‘Finance Minister’ & ‘Central Bank Governor’ portfolios respectively. Bringing about sanity to the nation’s finances is of utmost urgency in a globalizing world of extraordinary challenges.

The government and its ministers running the show ought to tread carefully within public office. To move well, and forward faster, government officials must look to the past for clues, learn from lessons under dictatorship as guidance. Nothing is guaranteed in life, except a certain death, of course, and perhaps that public office is a revolving door, in that one is bound to be replaced some day. So do your bit, not for your pocket, but for national interest in transforming the Gambia quickest. There is no excuse why the country shouldn’t be a heavenly Paradise with good governance – for a nation of barely 2 million.

The ‘Office for Budget Responsibility’ is tailored on a UK system – as an independent government agency with IMF & World Bank reputations; and to be of a Senegambia reputable nature capable of making regional and Africa-wide economic projections and financial estimations. Charity begins at home, thus the Gambia must first get its public finances in order, starting with good leadership – surrounded by a capable team of experts each in their rightful masterly positions. The President must do away with favoritism – cronyism and nepotism has hindered progress all across Africa.

Although president Barrow has identified infrastructural spending across the country, injecting much needed confidence into the system is of urgency. And as with public finances, successful projects shall only be delivered if the government is supported by a strong team that has the right mix of professional, financial and commercial skills to deliberate on policy decisions. That is what a credible democracy entails where citizens hold their government responsible & accountable for the decisions & its record therein.

Gibril Saine
London.

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