Monday, September 5, 2011

Gambia Gov’t Recognises NGO’s Role- Finance PS Secka

Mamburay Njie Finance Minister
The Permanent Secretary (PS) at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs (MoFEA), Mr. Mod Secka has stressed the government of  The Gambia’s  recognition of the important roles thatNon-Governmental Organisations  (NGOs)  play in the country.
PS thus assured them that the government would continue to create the enabling environment for NGOs to grow and flourish.
The PS gave the assurances while stepping in the shoes of the Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Mr. Mamburay Njie, on 23 August, 2011 at maiden policy dialogues launching forum organised by the Association of Non- Governmental Organisations known as TANGO. The forum was funded by the Harare-based African Capacity Building  Foundation (ACBF).
In his presentation on ‘Beyond Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP): What lessons to learn for the prospects and challenges in the attainment of the Programme for AcceleratedGrowth and Employment (PAGE)’, Secka told officials of the NGO community gathered:
 “The government has recognised your role as NGOs, so that you [the NGOs community] can effectively carry out your developmental work plans.”
He added that their work is also recognised in the country’s Vision 2020 and the Medium Term Plan of the government, citing the PRSP II and the PAGE.
He announced that PAGE, if all goes as plan, would come into force come January, 2012. Findings of the various Annual Progress Reports (ARPs) also point to the problem of funding for the PRSP.
The volume of resources received fell short of the amounts pledged by donor partners to support Gambia government plans, revealed PS Secka.
He informed the gathering that the Gambia government is renewing and strengthening its commitments to attaining the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the Vision 2020 by developing a successor plan to the current PRSP II- which is in its final year of implementation.
This new Meduim Term Plan called PAGE 2012 to 2015, Secka said, aims to build on the successes registered over the years and addressing the challenges to the attainment of the MDGs and the country’s long term Vision 2020.
He noted that the PRSP II is also MDGS-based, and aims to focus government interventionstowards achieving the MDGs as well as the Vision 2020.
Vision 2020, he elaborated on, has five pillars, viz. improving the enabling policy environment to promote growth and poverty reduction; enhancing the capacity and output of productive sectors- agriculture, fisheries, industry, trade, tourism, and infrastructure with emphasis on productive capacities of the poor and vulnerable populations; and improve coverage of the basic social services and social protection needs of the poor and vulnerable.
Also it’s to enhance governance systems and build the capacity of local communities and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to play an active role in economic growth and poverty reduction; and mainstreaming cross-cutting issues, gender, youths, population, HIV/AIDS, nutrition and environment into the development process.
The Mid-Term Review of PRSP II in 2009 and the MDG status report 2010, PS revealed, showed mixed achievements; while noting that has registered progress,and is also on course to achieve  some of the targets  PRSP II and the MDGs.
But he was quick to say that the country on the other side faces challenges in attainment others. The promotion of pupils starting Grade One (1), who reach last Grade of primary education, PS Secka reported, has been attained.
 He further said the country is on track to attain net enrollment in primary education and literacy among 15-24 years olds.
On gender parity in primary education and lower basic, he noted that it has been attained and parity at senior secondary school is within reach.
According to him, the proportion of one-year-old children immunised against measles has also been attained, pointing out that the country prepares a successor plan to the PRSP II. The proportion of under-fives sleeping under Insecticide Treated bed nets is on track.
 In fact, “we are on course to meet both the Abuja and MDG targets of 80 percent of children sleeping under Insecticide Treated bed nets in the country”, the Finance PS stressed. Going further, he said that the proportion of the population using safe drinking water source has increased remarkably, and that the country is on track to attain the goal.
He spoke on the Community Driven Programme, which is among many other interventions that have strengthened the capacity of local communities and Civil Society Organisactions to play an active role in the development process.
Despite these achievements, there have been some challenges in which he highlighted that a 2008 World Bank/Gambia Bureau of Statistic (GBOS) poverty assessment report using data mainly from the 2003 Integrated Household Survey (HIS) puts poverty head count at 58 percent. 
The figure, he told audience, showed that poverty had declined by 3 percent points between 2003 and 2008.
Poor targeting and coordination of intervention amongst others explain the limited impact of PRSP II implementation on overall poverty levels despite Gross Domestic Product in the country growth rates ranging between 5 percent and 6 percent, respectively.
He,therefore, informed the gathering that greater efforts are needed to meet the goals of reducing child mortality and improving maternal health. The mixed performance is further explained by the slow start to implementing some of the key building blocks to implementation framework of  PRSP II namely the Sector Wide Approaches (SWAPs) designed to improve synergies and the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) designed to enhance targeting. 
Another factor worthy of mention, as he pointed out, is the limited human resource capacity in government to implement the reforms.
“ I have no doubt that NGOs have a great role to play in the successful finalisation and implementation of the PAGE given their charitable, volunteering service, participation and empowering orientations,” he concluded.

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