Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Vision 2020 Remains the Central Focus of Government- says President Jammeh

Banjul, The Gambia (TNBES) Gambian President Yahya Jammeh has said that the attainment of
Vision 2020 remains the central focus of his government’s socio-economic development agenda, saying that
it is less than ten years to 2020, the goal post that was set in 1996 when the vision was crafted.

Speaking at the State opening of the House of representatives 2010, on Friday in Banjul, the Gambian leader admit that vision looked  rather unattainable, due to resource limitations, but have achieved half of the objectives and the rest are within the reach.

He said, his government will put in place concrete plans that would cost and fashion performance indicators for, monitor, progress, in order to achieve vision 2020, or even before that.

By all standards of measurement, including the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), President Jammeh said government has registered significant progress in socio-economic development agenda with particular reference to macroeconomic stability, health, education, socio-infrastructure, water and electricity as well as indispensables such as peace, security of persons  and property and the unfettered right of every man, woman and child to pursue happiness and prosperity in the country.

The Way forward, President admitted that progress have been registered in prudent macroeconomic management with single digit inflation, a sustainable fiscal position and stable exchange rates is laudable, noting
that it is a means to an end. He added that the end is greater is greater prosperity for all Gambians as clearly stipulated in the country’s vision 2020, to turn low-income Gambia into a high income country.

“For the achievement of Vision 2020, my government shall introduce a national development plan that I called the Programme for Accelerated Growth and Employment (PAGE)”, President Jammeh revealed.

He said the primary objective of the PAGE is to fast-track the realization of  Vision 2020, adding that it is
intended to plan the economy with a more concerted effort to engender  a higher growth trajectory above the five percent GDP growth registered in 2009 and even higher than the seven percent growth registered in 2006.

He noted that growth plan will be accompanied by the creation of more jobs to put Gambians to work.

Speaking further the Gambian leader pointed out that GDP growth 5-7 percent is not sufficient to get the country to a high income country level by 2020.

He also said it is less than a decade to achieve vision 2020 noting that there is need for change of economic game plan, in order to significantly improve the rate of investment and productive of every Gambian.

Strikes to be taken, the Gambian leader urged that attention must be refocused squarely on taken further
giant strikes intended to improve the livelihood of Gambian, noting that this, is overarching goal that is predicated on sound economic management, good governance, positive national and international support.

Speaking further President said, government fiscal policy that would support PAGE is the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF), which is contained in the recently introduced Public Finance Management
reform policy.

According to him MTEF is intended to link development plan to the budget and usher in programme
budgeting as opposed to line item budgeting that dose not lend itself readily to performance measurement,
saying that a key element of MTEF is monitoring and evaluation which provides feedback that would justify
continued allocation of resources.

The Gambian leader disclosed that African Development Bank in its African Economic Outlook 2009 reported that The Gambia is the only country in the whole of Africa expected to achieved seven out of the MDGS

He also said new Bills, amendment and convention are scheduled during the first sitting in 2010 legislative year are part of the executive’s efforts to support the vision 2020, adding that stakeholder have a role to played.

President pointed out that the government will bring to the attention of the lawmakers a bill entitled
“ The Gambia Investment and Export Promotion Agency (GIEPA), adding that bill is to provide the
enabling environment for foreign private and domestic export-oriented investment.

According to him it is the aim of government to position the country as a preferred hub for exporting into the
larger market space of the Economic Community of West African State noting that closer to home
government expect local producers to cater to the need of the tourism industry.

“The Private sector is enjoined to invest in this country or in partnership with government. My government never ceases to take every available opportunity to invite the productive sector to venture into the non-retail trade productive sectors like energy, agriculture and manufacturing. With the GIEPA Bill 2o10, the country is expanding the enabling environment for private sector development to enhance export promotion.”

Customs and Excise, President Jammeh said the Custom and Excise Bill 2010 will be presented to this Assembly. This Bill provides the opportunity for a modern Act that is in line with World Customs Organisation guidelines and international best practices. It encompasses two very important Conventions dealing with custom matters and ECOWAS Protocols.

According to him, it will bring into law the modern automated business environment, which will entrench the simplification of customs procedures and processes; thus reducing the cost of doing business. This will further enhance Gambia’s position as a preferred investment destination. More importantly, the Bill puts in the place 21st century Customs and Excise Administration in readiness for an increase in export-oriented indusatralisation in accordance with Vision 2020.

Still on the fiscal side, Jammeh said Conventions to be presented for ratification to this august body are The International Convention on Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System; The International Convention on the Implication of Customs Procedure (Kyoto Convention); and the Agreement of the African Tax Administration Forum.

Local Government and Lands, President recalled that in his last address to the Assembly, he intimated to them plans to divide Central River Region into North and South administrative regions and also to transfer the Administrative Headquarters of the North Bank Region to Farafenni.

“As expected, all these proposed amendments to the Local Government Act 2002 would be brought before the Assembly in this first session of the legislative year,”
he said.

He said that the rationale behind this it the desire to bring effective and efficient Local government Administration closer to the door step of the people as par of the decentralization process. The planning and Implementation of PAGE, Like the PRSP Before it, would involve Participatory consultations that
are with our decentralization policy.

“The Rent Decree (Decree No 67, 1996), the review of which was successful, would also be laid before you with a view to transform it from a Decree to an Act, in order to harmonize it with existing legislations,” Jammeh told parliamentarians.
Foreign policy, President noted that government will continues to pursue an open-door, non-discriminatory policy in  relations with the rest of the world based on the principles of justice, equality, non-alignment, mutual trust and respect.

“We will continue zero for hate, racism, double standards, and gun-boat diplomacy in the resolution of conflicts. We will maintain the policy  thrust of contributing effectively to international peace and cooperation. In the same vein, we condemn terrorism in all its forms, and shall continue to collaborate in all effort to eliminate terrorism. We will also maintain a continuous and active participation in international and regional Peacekeeping operations”, he said.

President disclosed that , the Gambia government continues to be engaged in friendly contacts with the government of  the sister republic of Senegal for a more collaborative and peaceful coexistence adding these talks  will culminate in the establishment of the Senegalo-Gambia Permanent Secretariat to further entrench the strong  bonds of kingship and affinity between the two countries.

He emphasized that honesty and sacrifice are the core values that all and not only public servants should uphold and legislature is expected to work judiciously to scrutinize all bills tabled before them and to add value to where it deem fit.

He also said the judiciary is expected to enforce the law to deter criminality, especially crimes that
create national discord or destroy the social fabric of the Gambia such as murder, rape, drug peddling, abuse and subversion.

On Health and Social Welfare, he said that our policy remains to provide quality health services, making health care accessible and affordable to the entire population. Like health, education is the bedrock to building sustainable human capacity for national development. 

“Accessibility, affordability and quality are key elements of our policy at all levels of education. My Government’s vision in the higher education sector is aimed at building the requisite technical and scientific competence as well as planning and managerial capacities that would expand the country’s absorptive capacity for accelerated technological skills acquisition. VOL:2 ISSN:146

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