Friday, December 2

OSPG urges Gov’t, Parliament to enact Anti-corruption Bill

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By Adama Jallow

The Open Society Platform of the Gambia (OSPG) and partners have once again renewed their commitment by calling on the Gambia government and the National Assembly to act by enacting the Anti-corruption Bill 2019 and operationalise the Access to Information into law, to address corruption and fulfill the right to information as enshrined in the 1997 Constitution.

Speaking during the OSPG organised Stakeholders’ Dialogue on Maximizing Accountability Efforts held on Saturday at the Metzy Hotel, Kotu in partnership with the National Audit Office, Accountant General, and the National Assembly, Mr Ismail Jarju, the OSPG Chairperson revealed that the challenges they faced are critical to achieving open governance entry points for The Gambia to join Open Governance Partnership (OGP).

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

Mr Jarju further outlined that the outcomes of the forum would contribute to improving the lives and livelihoods of the Gambian people and enhancing the confidence and trust of the citizens in the government.

He outlined that this historic milestone in The Gambia’s journey to institutionalizing good governance, particularly accountability, transparency, and inclusive reform processes remains elusive.

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

He said the held gathering would also allow them 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 the National Democratic Institute and in collaboration with other CSO as well as government agencies, he said a lot of advocacy engagements were conducted.

The OSPG chairperson, therefore, called on the government through the OSPG Coalition partners to act now and address these challenges so that the country can join her friends and neighboring countries like Senegal, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, among others in the OGP family and enable the country to be part of reformers in open governance as well as create a lasting positive impact on the lives of people they serve.

In his part, Honourable Alhagie Mbow, the vice Chairman and a member of the Finance and Public Accounts Committee who referred to the stakeholders’ forum as a national dialogue, 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 be able to affect their job.

He said the Parliament has gone further to ensure that they budget for operationalization of access to information and that they have put in almost D10 Million to ensure the access to information is realized in the Gambia like in other African countries.