Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Gambia: Business Sector Needs Solution To Challenges For Funding NGOs

GCCI Board Member Dawda Sarge (far right) says private sector “shy away from investing sufficiently in national development due to high risks like weak governance, regulatory uncertainties, and weak rule of law among other structural barriers.”  (Photo: MSJoof/TNBES)
The Gambia chamber of commerce and industry, GCCI, on Wednesday suggested that solutions be designed to address challenges facing the private sector as a vehicle to fund NGOs for national development.

“It will be necessary for all socio-economic stakeholders to engage in policy dialogue to design a viable strategy for the private sector’s effective participation in funding for national development,” said Dawda Sarge, a board member of GCCI.

On May 6, the association of non-governmental organisations, Tango, hosted its 11th Policy Dialogue Series under the theme: directing corporate social responsibility towards development organisations.

That forum, meant to devise ways of tapping more funding from the business sector in The Gambia, brought together actors from the civil society, the business sector and the government.

Tango said the majority of NGOs in The Gambia, involved in service provision in all sectors and regions, largely depend on external sources for funding of their programmes and interventions.

But tapping external funding for local development is “becoming increasingly difficult” since the 2008 financial crisis and due to “donor-fatigue”, according to the NGOs grouping.

Shy away from investing 

Mr. Sarge said the private sector usually hesitates, and “shy away from investing sufficiently in national development due to high risks like weak governance at sovereign level, regulatory uncertainties, and weak rule of law among other structural barriers”. 

“There are also bottlenecks such as the short-term orientation to investor incentives which makes it unlikely for [private sector operators] to invest sufficiently in national development,” he said.

GCCI suggested that the government embark on some policy responses to encourage greater private sector investment in national development by creating a stronger enabling environment through an effective legal policy regulatory framework.

It also said the use of local money and assets to build an inclusive and equitable society through development organisations requires trust that NGOs are worth funding to make good use of the money for social change.

A good policy

Lamin Camara, a deputy permanent secretary at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs, said The Gambia wants to see a private sector-led economy. 

As such, he said the government is taking a “holistic approach to financing development” that include supporting efforts to strengthen domestic resources, resource mobilization, addressing and harnessing more private investment.

Camara said a public-private partnership directorate, PPPD, has been established within the ministry of finance and “very soon we will have ‘a good policy’ formulated, and regulations that would guide the public and private sector to create an enabling environment.”

“We believe in partnership for development, although such partnership must be [based] on inclusive transparency [and] inclusivity accountability to build trust,” he said.

Omar Badjie, executive director of Action Aid International The Gambia, who described as a “very dangerous situation” when a country relies entirely on external sources for its development, said a partnership is needed.

Develop accountability tools

 “We must form a partnership – a public-private-civil society partnership, to ensure that we are designing programmes for development and implementing them, and it is a partnership that is based on trust, accountability,” he said.

Badjie said NGOs are in fact accountable to the communities they work with and to the donors.
“We are prepared to work with you (private sector) to develop accountability tools that we’ll all respect and make sure that the money that you are investing is used accountably,” he said.  

While NGOs engage in providing education, health, food, environmental management skills, income generation, self-employment, and higher agricultural production, the private sector have supported similar initiatives as in corporate social responsibility.

Tango said it recognizes the private sector’s potential to boost national development and is keen to formally engage it inline with the sustainable development goals, the post-2015 development agenda, which seeks to encourage and promote effective public-private and civil society partnership. 

Written by Modou S. Joof

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