Alliance for Patriotic Re-orientation and Construction (APRC) Manifesto
|Yahya Jammeh, APRC Leader|
The principal objective for Patriotic Re-orientation and Construction (APRC) is the Empowerment of The People in order for them to take full control of their own destiny on the road to socio-economic development. This is the third edition of the APRC Manifesto. Ahead of the 2006 Presidential and 2007 National Assembly elections, this Manifesto seeks to inform the electorate about the policies and programmes to be implemented by the APRC government, during its term in office. This document is therefore the embodiment of the APRC’s public declaration of intent and policy for the years ahead.
Since the change of government in 1994 and during the first and second term in office of the APRC government, observers have witnessed the birth of a NEW GAMBIA. The Gambia has experienced a radical transformation of both her physical infrastructure and her people. He then elaborated: The country has seen a proliferation of schools, the establishment of the University of The Gambia, with the creation of a Medical Department, the construction of three new hospitals, the construction of an ultra-modern airport terminal, the extension of the road network and construction of bridges, the acquisition of 18MW electricity generating capacity and 25MW Brikama Power Plant, the creation of a Television Service, Rural Electrification, Street Lighting and Traffic Lights, among many others. The Gambian people have become more conscious about their rights and responsibilities through civic education programmes and general participation in policy formulation and implementation. This is the true Empowerment of The People which seeks to enable the private individual to realise his/her creative potential for development in an environment, devoid of restrictions. For the APRC, popular empowerment also means the curtailment of Government and the limitation of State intervention is the market and the production process to only when and where absolutely necessary.
The central element in achieving the desired results in the Gambian people themselves. The burden, which endeavour puts on the shoulders of each and every Gambian is enormous. It is however not an insurmountable challenge. What it calls for from every Gambian is profound reflection and unreserved patriotic commitment to the motherland. On the part of the APRC government, it calls for effective planning and the pursuit of consistent results-oriented policies towards socio-economic development. As a Party, the APRC is strongly committed to that.
The Manifesto details the Party’s policy intentions on certain issues and in various sectors including, People, Development, Democracy, Governance, Agriculture, Health, Education, Housing, Energy, Employment and Labour, Trade and Industry, Transport, Tourism, Law and Order, Justice, Defence and National Security, Religion and Tolerance. It explains the Party’s social, economic and political objectives sector by sector and lays down the operative policy frameworks and expounds on the party’s strategies for realising its objectives.
We solemnly call on all Gambians to join us in the crusade to build the New Gambia under the banner of the People’s true Party, the Alliance for Patriotic Re-orientation and Construction, and in the framework of its Manifesto. Together we will consolidate the achievements and bring to fruition the aspirations of all Gambians. This is a clarion call to all stakeholders in The Gambia, individuals or organisations, irrespective of tribe, religion or origin. All of us have a crucial role to play in the construction of the New Gambia, we all cherish so dearly.
Dr. Alhaji Yahya A.J.J. Jammeh
ALLIANCE FOR PATRIOTIC RE-ORIENTATION AND CONSTRUCTION
THE GAMBIA, ITS PEOPLE AND DEVELOPMENT OBJECTIVES
Over two decades of the First Republic, characterised by sterile socio-economic policies, stunted growth in the public and private sectors, misplaced priorities in public infrastructural development, compounded by an uninspiring leadership have left The Gambia trailing as one of the least developed and aid-dependent countries in the World. Change from this inglorious situation has become an inescapable imperative.
The Alliance for Patriotic Re-orientation and Construction (APRC) is determined to build on the remarkable achievements made since coming to power and to evolve a system of governance which will involve the people in the process of development.
In recognition of the creative spirit of the individual Gambian as a catalyst towards the achievement of the common good, we pledge to empower the people in order to enable them realize their fullest potentials in a FREE and competitive environment.
To the APRC, the ultimate objective of development is to liberate the Gambian people from the bondage of ignorance, disease, want, hunger, fear, dependence and exploitation to enable them build their self-esteem, develop a spirit of self-reliance and lead a dignified and fulfilled life.
Our central objective is to spearhead the march towards realizing the principal target in “VISION 2020”, which is:
“to transform The Gambia into a financial centre, a tourist paradise,
a trading export-oriented agricultural and manufacturing nation,
thriving on free market policies and a vibrant private sector, sustained by a
well-educated, trained, skilled, healthy, self-reliant and enterprising population
and guaranteeing a well-balanced eco-system and a decent standard of living
for one and all under a system of government based on the consent of the citizenry”.
a trading export-oriented agricultural and manufacturing nation,
thriving on free market policies and a vibrant private sector, sustained by a
well-educated, trained, skilled, healthy, self-reliant and enterprising population
and guaranteeing a well-balanced eco-system and a decent standard of living
for one and all under a system of government based on the consent of the citizenry”.
To achieve this goal we must re-order our priorities, rely more on our own human, material, financial and other resources while regarding foreign aid only as a supplement to our efforts.
DEMOCRACY AND GOVERNANCE
During the First Republic, The Gambia was falsely advertised as a multi-party democracy and hailed as a model for tolerance and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in Africa. On the contrary, however, the system was multi-party on paper and in form only. In essence, substance and effect it was a one-party system that ousted sanity, frowned on dissent, disregarded institutional checks and balances, promoted patron-client relationship that gave rise to nepotism, rampant corruption and encouraged ethnic considerations in the management of public affairs. Respect for human rights and fundamental freedom was only a cliché while accountability was unpardonably compromised.
The APRC pledges to build a NEW GAMBIA that is characterised by good governance, genuine democracy and freedom for our people. The New Gambian society will be one in which our people will be:
(a) Free to participate in the process of national development;
(b) Free to choose who governs them and in what way;
(c) Free to say what they think and exchange ideas in a spirit of tolerance and mutual respect;
(d) Free to determine the socio-economic and political atmosphere within which to pursue their development objectives without dictation from any external sources;
(e) Free to know what the Government does in their name and on their behalf;
(f) Free to demand accountability, transparency and probity in public life and to determine their choice of laws, rules and regulations that govern their lives.
Our democracy will not be a copy of any outside model. Rather, it would be inspired by our own history, our cultural diversity and the heterogeneity of our society. In a nutshell, it will be a democracy, which will recognise our socio-cultural realities as a people and a country.
The APRC regards human rights as indivisible and symbiotic in their relationship. We also consider that the most essential human rights, in our present socio-economic circumstances, are those which guarantee the basic necessities of life, such as food, shelter, education, medical care, clean water and environment, work and the opportunity to live and develop in a free society and in peace and dignity.
The APRC pledges to work assiduously towards making these rights accessible to all Gambians. The APRC also pledges to uphold and defend the human rights and fundamental freedoms enshrined in Chapter IV of the Constitution of the Second Republic, particularly, the right to life, personal liberty, property, freedom of speech, association, assembly, movement, privacy, equality before the law and freedom of a responsible press. We, as a people, must however know where our rights end and where other peoples rights begin. The various rights and freedoms must however be exercised with due regard to our duties to the State.
The culture of “maslaha”, greed, corruption, nepotism, patronage, extravagance and conspicuous consumption has militated against our process of development in several ways while the extended family system has created a system of dependence of the majority on the few. This has promoted laziness, covetousness, and a general laissez-faire attitude that is not conducive to development.
The APRC would formulate policies that would reward enterprise and eliminate these negative tendencies from the New Gambian society.
The erroneous notion of Government as the all-provider and all-doer (“Mansa Kunda”) has no place in the New Gambia the APRC is determined to build.
The APRC would seek to inculcate into Gambians the ideals of self-reliance and hard work. Through civic education, public information and communication programmes, the APRC would aim at awakening Gambians to the realization that they are all stakeholders in The Gambia and must therefore participate in the production, preservation, maintenance and protection of the nation’s resources.
WOMEN IN DEVELOPMENT
The importance of the economic role of women in national development cannot be over emphasized. The APRC recognizes that no national development programme would be successful without the effective participation and full support of women. They are indispensable partners in The Gambia’s development process. The APRC shall pursue its deliberate policy of empowering Gambian women by appointing qualified and capable women into positions of authority and decision-making in the Administration. During the APRC’s first term in office, the appointment of a female Vice President and female Secretaries of State, a female Secretary General and Permanent Secretaries, a female Auditor General and Accountant General is testimony of the APRC Government’s recognition of the critical role of women in the development process. All forms of gender inequality will be eliminated and women will have access to and control of factors of production as well as appropriate skills training. The APRC government shall also take steps to eliminate all forms of discrimination and violence against women and girls, reduce illiteracy among women and improve the quality and access to health care services.
THE PRIVATE SECTOR
The APRC recognizes the Private Sector as the true engine of socio-economic development growth. Without a vibrant private sector there cannot be any meaningful development. For this reason, the APRC government during its first term in office has put in place policies that seek to enhance the role of the private sector, and unleash their creative potentials.
Gunjur Ice Plant
The APRC government has passed into law the Investment Promotion Act and the Free Zones Act, established a one-stop-shop called Gambia Investment Promotion and Free Zones Agency (GIPFZA) and institutionalised the Economic Summit as a forum for Public-Private Sector dialogue on economic management issues. All these actions seek to create that conducive environment needed for the Private Sector to thrive in.
The APRC would not relent in its drive to create the most enabling environment to stimulate private sector activities and to encourage both domestic and foreign investors to take advantage of the numerous opportunities in The Gambia. The APRC government will limit itself strictly to the provision of public goods and services and would encourage private Gambian entrepreneurs to take advantage of the space left by it through its divestiture programme.
The APRC strongly believes that the public and private sectors both have the same objective that is to improve the welfare of the Gambian people. The APRC government will therefore collaborate and work effectively with the private sector to achieve that objective.
The Party recognises the importance of the private sector in economic development and growth will put in place measures to further enhance a friendly environment for business and economic operators. The APRC realizes that the objectives of the National Vision 2020 together with the goals of sustainable economic development the private sector must play a leading role hence the APRC through the coordination of the existing trade, industrial, competition and investment policies would enhance effective and productive private participation in the economy. It is expected that such policies will enhance growth in the agriculture, fisheries and natural resources, manufacturing and tourism sectors, and promote exports of Gambian products. The overall aim is to provide employment and increased income for Gambians.
The APRC will continue to improve the existing infrastructures that facilitate both domestic and foreign trade such as the seaport and airport, roads, and telecommunications for eventual private sector growth and sustainable development.
THE PUBLIC SECTOR
Notwithstanding the key role assigned to the private sector as the engine of growth, achieving our development objectives will be impossible without an efficient, committed, well-trained, well-motivated and dedicated public service.
The APRC will continue the policy of developing the capacity of the Civil Service to enable them offer institutional and infrastructural support to the private sector. The delivery of social services by public sector institutions is crucial to rapid development. Appropriate incentive schemes will also be introduced in order to motivate public servants and improve their performance. Performance will be appraised and rewarded appropriately. The incentive schemes will, among other things, include training, both short and long term, and periodic salary increases in order to maintain the purchasing power of public servants. The APRC government will vigorously pursue its efforts to streamline and rationalise government operations in order to stamp out red tape and bureaucracy.
The APRC is committed to a lean and efficient public sector. One of the strategies to be implemented in order to achieve that objective is through the implementation of cautious and judicious divestiture programme. There is however no gainsaying that some public enterprises provide services that require them to remain public institutions. These public enterprises would be made to continue to operate on commercial lines to improve on their productivity.
The challenge to these institutions is for them to play their vital role as forerunners of economic and financial efficiency while providing adequate infrastructural and social services to the private sector. The APRC government will ensure that the public enterprises stand up to that challenge.
Pro-active Boards will be set up within Public Enterprises to work closely with the respective line Departments of State in the formulation, implementation and monitoring of strategic plans for the public sector. The ultimate goal is for the public enterprises to create optimum value for all stakeholders in their assets and activities.
ACCOUNTABILITY, TRANSPARENCY AND PROBITY
The APRC considers probity in public life as one of the most essential pre-requisites for effective running of the public service. We also strongly believe that accountability is an indispensable factor in public administration and that transparency in public affairs is imperative in order to maintain confidence in the public service and to justify the enormous sacrifices Gambians are called upon to make for the public good.
The APRC would formalize a set of rules and regulations that would make the Public Service accountable to the people and make it less profitable for public officers to indulge in corrupt practices.
The Commissions of Inquiry would eventually be moulded into a single institution to investigate and punish illegal and dishonest acquisition of property and wealth.
POPULATION AND STANDARD OF LIVING
The population growth rate of 4.1 per cent in a country classified as one of the least developed in the world is alarming considering the size of our land surface area and the resources at our disposal, especially when this growth rate outstrips our economic growth. Basic infrastructure and social amenities are still at a rudimentary stage and the standard of living of the population (particularly the rural population) is, by world standards, extremely low. Production in the major sectors of the economy is yet to attain modern standards while productivity growth and income levels for the same sectors are far below world averages.
Undoubtedly, some of the factors affecting our population growth include a high fertility rate, a decreasing rate of mortality and migration both within our borders and from neighbouring countries.
The APRC will elaborate strategies to promote middle-sized households through the National Population Programme in order to improve the capacity of the individual to earn enough income and improve his standard of living.
Access to birth spacing services would be greatly enhanced with emphasis on the education of Women since educated Women are better able to slow population growth through prescribed methods. However, a campaign for a change in male attitudes becomes inevitable in this regard. Efforts to encourage population planning will be directed at men as well.
The APRC will improve efforts to control migration from outside our borders without compromising our commitments to ECOWAS while creating appropriate conditions for a proper integration of foreigners who have legal residence in The Gambia.
The prevailing demographic trends, rapid urbanization and concentration of the urban population have increased the demand for decent housing to alarming proportions. As shelter is a fundamental human right, the APRC will accord sufficient urgency to this titanic problem by first reviewing the National Housing Policy formulated in 1989 to bring it in line with current realities. Attention will be focused on solving the immediate problems of inadequate access to land for housing, dependence on imported building materials, the manpower and technical limitation of the construction industry and the need for specialized housing finance institutions such as housing banks and housing cooperatives.
In order to increase the housing stock of the urban centres, the APRC will encourage commercial estate developers, both public and private, by providing them with state land in designated areas. In addition, fiscal incentives will be provided to those estate developers catering for the need of the low-income group.
The APRC will address the inequities of state land allocation for residential purposes and formulate legislation that will provide for everybody’s need not for everybody’s greed.
Before the advent of the APRC government, the health sector faced some major constraints including shortage of trained nurses, doctors and health professionals, inadequate transport and storage facilities for the provision and accessibility of drugs, insufficient coordination of programmes and inadequate coordination of donor assistance.
During its first term in office, the APRC has given top priority to these problems and has taken practical steps to address them. The APRC government sought assistance from friendly countries in the form of trained medical personnel and financial resources in order to guarantee an accessible and affordable health delivery system for all Gambians. The results are fantastic and unprecedented in the history of The Gambia! In August 2001, there are 313 foreign health personnel (i.e. doctors, nurses, laboratory technicians and pharmacists) and 21 Gambian medical doctors operating not only in all government dispensaries, minor health centres and major health centres but also in many villages spread throughout the country. For the first time in the history of this country, villagers have the services of a doctor at their doorsteps.
In order to sustain this feat and reduce the heavy dependence on foreign doctors, the APRC government has also established a School of Medicine under the University of The Gambia. In the next five years, this School will turn out Gambian trained doctors who will take care of their kin and kindred.
The APRC strongly believes that a sick nation cannot be productive and that any meaningful and sustainable socio-economic development programme would necessarily require a healthy people. The health of our people is our primary concern as a Party and we will leave no stone unturned in improving the health care delivery system in The Gambia. To this end, the APRC will continue to update the infrastructure in the Primary Health Care System with the objective of further reducing infant and maternal mortality rates and expanding the system to cover more villages.
The goal of the APRC is to provide quality health care services and management practices within an enabling environment, delivered by appropriately and adequately trained, skilled and motivated personnel at all levels of care with the involvement of all stakeholders to ensure a healthy population. The APRC will continue its efforts to address the infrastructure and logistic requirements of the health services and will ensure the provision of essential care packages at all levels of the health delivery system. A new hospital will be built in SerreKunda and 10 new health centres will be built around the country. These are in addition to the four new health facilities (Farafenni, Bwiam, Bundung and Soma) built by the APRC government during its first term in office. The Party will also empower communities to be active partners in the management of their health and will integrate traditional medicine into the formal health sector.
EDUCATION FOR ALL
One of the threats to rapid socio-economic development is ignorance. The APRC will continue its war against illiteracy in order to achieve its triple objective of making education not only accessible, but also relevant and of good quality.
We will construct more classrooms and more schools and will create conditions to enhance the policy of Education-For-All with a view to providing at least nine years of uninterrupted basic education for all enrolled pupils in our School System. In particular, the APRC will adopt measures that will encourage the education of the girl child.
Scholarships will be awarded to deserving pupils to pursue further education in higher institutions both within and outside this country. For those who do not wish to or are unable to continue beyond Grade 9, Skills Centres will be opened to enable them learn various skills/trades conducive to our national development effort.
Adult education programmes will be promoted to complement the functional literacy programmes in the local languages. The Party is aware that constraints relating to the availability of qualified teachers, classrooms, furniture and instructional materials require urgent action to improve on the quality and responsiveness to learning and skills dissemination. The APRC will invest more in education with appropriate resources and budgetary allocation, and would ensure that the University of The Gambia, which it has established, expands and provides quality education to the students. The University of The Gambia will be linked with other Universities, Colleges and other Institutions of higher learning in a network that will ensure the turning out of high quality academic and professional graduates that will guarantee availability of suitable personnel for sustainable development.
The APRC government is committed to ensuring that the Education Sector puts appropriate emphasis on and gives priority to continuous investment in training infrastructure to produce a continuous stream of technicians in order to cater for the diversification of the economic and social activities envisioned in “Vision 2020”.
Recognizing the correlation between Education and Tolerance, the APRC will make deliberate effort towards building on individual and community tolerance through the educational system. No longer should ignorance and lack of formal education constitute breeding ground for fear, distrust, suspicion and ultimately intolerance in Gambian society.
EMPLOYMENT AND LABOUR
The APRC recognises the significant value of the nation’s citizenry and its indispensability as input towards the achievement of the national development goals and objectives. To this end, the Party will, through increased resource mobilisation and allocation, accord top priority to the development, on a sustainable basis, of this vital agent of change and prosperity.
The APRC will actively pursue the goals of skills development as they relate to jobs and employment, and importantly to empowerment. All these are consistent with the Party’s relentless resolve to bringing about sound participatory development by the people, and promoting at regional and national level, increased self-reliance, food and income security among the population. The APRC will pursue a training policy deliberately biased towards vocational and skills-based training and tied to entrepreneurship development that constitutes a window to promote resource use and ownership by Gambians. An additional objective in the Party’s policy in human resource development is to effectively facilitate The Gambia’s integration into the global economy, by giving Gambians the skills, know-how, and expertise that are required internationally around the globe, and in the international market for jobs. The Party will undertake a proper diagnosis of the skills requirement of the twenty-first century with the view to design policies, programmes and projects as are appropriate and relevant to the Gambian socio-economic advancement.
The APRC also recognises the vital role of workers as producers of the nation’s wealth. In the light of this, the Party will ensure that workers will not be left out in the distribution of the wealth they helped to create. The APRC undertakes to protect all workers against any form of work-related injustice and ill treatment so that workers will win the dignity they truly deserve. The Party will in this light, work towards creating a more conducive work environment for the worker characterized by simplified but reassuringly protective labour laws and codes. The APRC will seek also the active engagement of worker organisations in all social dialogues and consultation towards improved socio-economic growth and advancement
All these constitute building blocks to fighting poverty and social exclusion and are consistent with the goals the Party will continue to pursue.
AGRICULTURE AND FOOD SECURITY
With the moral conviction that all mankind should be free from the scourges of hunger, the APRC will continue to accord top priority to agricultural development. Agriculture plays a dominant role in the socio-economic development of our nation, providing livelihood for 75 per cent of the labour force and contributing 20 percent to Gross Domestic Product. During the First Republic, the Agriculture Sector was characterized by low productivity, an undiversified primary production system which was largely rain-fed and conditioned by a seemingly unbreakable cycle of erratic and inadequate input and technology utilization, low output, low incomes and acute inability to generate savings for investment. With resolve and determination, the APRC government made significant in-roads into this seemingly intractable situation.
The APRC will create the enabling environment and encourage the private sector to invest in agriculture in order to boost production and substantially increase its value-added. This will be done by fostering agro-processing and exports through investments in productivity increasing and/or cost reducing technologies as well as improved marketing and management systems. The main elements of the APRCs strategy are:
(i) increasing access to improved agricultural technology;
(ii) promoting the production and marketing of selected agricultural commodities;
(iii) improving rural infrastructure;
(iv) increasing access to rural finance; and
(v) improving access to domestic and export markets.
The APRC, a Party of the People, is committed to making the people self-reliant in food production to guarantee quality and safe food for all at all times and will continue to tackle headlong, all the major inhibitory and retarding factors to production and productivity in the sector through concerted efforts of modernizing, mechanizing and commercializing agriculture.
In this regard, the APRC will encourage joint ventures with foreign investors in the sector and will offer attractive incentive packages for exporters of agricultural produce as well as for importers of machinery, equipment, fertilizers, agro-chemicals and all other required production inputs.
Previously, the majority of Gambians regard agriculture as a vocation for only the illiterate rural folk. The APRC considers this to be a gross misconception, which should be redeemed. It is therefore not uncommon today to find educated Gambians investing their time, money, knowledge and expertise in the agricultural sector, thanks to the encouragement of the APRC government and its leadership by example.
The invitation by the APRC leadership for Gambians to go back to the land, has therefore been heeded. This call is aimed at generating income and employment for the rural population who are largely dependent on agriculture and also reduce the disparities between rural-urban incomes as well as between men and women with the eventual objective of curbing the rural-urban drift as a way of providing balanced demographic distribution for development.
The APRC will adopt a new food production strategy that will to a large extent redress the inadequacies which have aggravated the problems created by the prevailing high population growth rate, environmental degradation and rural-urban migration. The APRC government will place emphasis on mechanization and the transfer of appropriate technologies to the farming communities to greatly enhance their productive capacities and ensure the processing, preservation and storage of adequate food supplies to feed our people and increase household income.
The APRC will encourage the private sector (by providing policies and incentives) to take advantage of the public sector facilities by investing in transport, storage, processing, packaging and marketing activities. In this regard, farmers will be assisted with the establishment of an early warning Food Information System (FIS) to mitigate the effects of drought and famine while a national strategy for the conservation and utilization of plant and animal (particularly indigenous) genetic resources will be established to sustain bio-diversity of flora and fauna. This will be supported by the implementation of a programme for the prevention and control of trans-boundary plant and animal pests and diseases.
The APRC will encourage more people to engage in fish farming. However, trawling methods and diseases will be controlled to ensure the preservation of our fish stocks. Meat processing, the generation of dairy products, as well as the processing of crops, fruits and vegetables will be given adequate boost by the APRC in a bid to enhance food security.
FINANCING OF AGRICULTURAL VENTURES
The goal of providing adequate food security through increased and sustainable food production, processing, storage, packaging and marketing will not materialize without the requisite supportive financial resources.
Specialized financial institutions capable and willing to lend to agricultural producers, both small and large scale, will be required to operate in The Gambia or will be created and induced to lend to agricultural producers.
The APRC will introduce a deliberate national policy to encourage Savings and Credit generation and foster more intermediation through the introduction of leasing, co-financing and Credit Schemes.
The APRC will continue to pursue its economic liberalisation programme and reinforce the current market-oriented policies in prices, exchange and payment mechanisms and buttress them with an aggressive export promotion strategy. Efforts to raise savings and improve investment ratios will be re-doubled through financial deepening to stimulate growth while new and innovative financing for infrastructure will be introduced in the Public Sector Investment Programme. The hub of the economy will be the private sector and the APRC will spare no effort in creating the enabling atmosphere for brisk and viable business in all the sectors while reinforcing institutional and public resource management capacities through better accounting, auditing and budgeting practices to improve transparency and accountability.
The APRC will guarantee that the Dalasi remains strong and convertible within and beyond the region and will maintain real interest rates at sufficiently positive levels to attract investors.
The financing and management of Public Sector deficit shall focus on the continued promotion of non-inflationary tendencies through careful monitoring and control of expenditures and the improvement of revenue mobilization.
The APRC will continuously appraise our macro-economic policies and strive towards assuming the leading role in the sub-regional integration efforts.
TAXATION AND TAX REFORM
The Agricultural, Manufacturing, Processing, Packaging and Export Sectors of the economy will benefit from tax holidays and tax incentives that will be the envy of the other States in the sub-region.
The APRC will ensure that investors in these Sectors are given the full benefit of these incentives and will institute measures to remove the various bottlenecks encountered by investors.
ENERGY FOR DEVELOPMENT
The APRC recognises the pivotal role of energy in the attainment of an environmentally sustainable socio-economic development. We believe that in order to achieve the development objectives of VISION 2020, for a rapid economic and social development, the supply of power must be reliable, adequate and affordable. The APRC commits itself to vigorously pursue its efforts to increase generation capacity at Kotu Power Station and to electrify all major towns and villages in the rural areas. The recent procurement of 3x6 MW generating sets is a step in that direction.
In addition to increasing generation capacity, the APRC is determined to bring about a reduction in the cost of energy supply in the country to make the country a competitive investment destination.
The APRC will also continue to support the National Water and Electricity Company (NAWEC) to address the poor state of the transmission and distribution system. The objective is to reduce the losses in the system in order to optimise the availability of electricity to all consumers.
New Power Plant in Brikama.
Rural Electrification Project
Marketing of petroleum products in the country will be given adequate attention to ensure safety and avoid environmental degradation. The APRC government will continue to ensure uninterrupted supply of petroleum products in the country and will introduce regulations aimed at creating a more conducive environment for the investor while protecting the consumer and safeguarding the interest of the country.
Knowing that the discovery of commercial oil will contribute significantly to the development of the country, the APRC Government will continue to support the oil and gas exploration programme in the country.
In order to minimize the environmental degradation caused by the heavy dependence on fuel wood and charcoal, the APRC will continue to search for alternative fuels and introduce on a wider scale solar energy devices and LPG to meet the demands in the areas that do not have access to electricity.
TRADE AND INDUSTRY
The APRC will continue to operate a liberal trade regime. The Party will take deliberate steps to encourage Gambians to play a greater role in the countrys domestic and international trade. The importation of shoddy goods will however not be allowed, for purposes of consumer protection.
To encourage the development of trade, the APRC government will establish a trade facilitation centre, which will provide information to traders about business and market opportunities or trade regulations at home and abroad.
The APRC aims at creating a broad industrial base, with special emphasis on small and medium enterprises in order to develop an entrepreneurial class in the country. Training and extension services shall be provided to the entrepreneurs and credit delivery will be enhanced. The APRC government will transform and restructure IBAS in order to make it autonomous and improve its performance in credit delivery and advisory services.
Local industries will be provided with adequate protection and incentives in order to make them competitive and efficient. The APRC will also mount a vigorous campaign to convince consumers in the Gambia to “buy Gambian” as a gesture to patronise our domestic products.
The liberalisation and modernisation of the financial sector is aimed at injecting a regular flow of resources into the manufacturing sector. The APRC, desirous of expanding this sector, will implement sound and prudent fiscal and monetary policies to ensure stable real interest rates and real effective exchange rate, high savings and conservative national budgeting to attract investors.
Effective and modernized transportation system is an indispensable ingredient in the infrastructual network for national development. The development of the seaport, airport, the road and waterway networks will be accorded sufficient attention.
The kombo Coastal Road
The APRC will focus attention on developing the inland road and waterway networks by improving connections with the regional trading centres. Recognising the importance of river transport in the countrys socio-economic development, this sub-sector will be revived and revitalized. The APRC government will acquire passenger and cargo vessels to revive inland river transportation to reduce the pressure on our road network. Sea transportation will also be encouraged to promote sub-regional trade. Private companies investing in these areas will be encouraged and given adequate incentives.
The Kerewan Bridge
Tourism, which is one of The Gambias major sources of foreign exchange and government revenue, is also a major source of employment for Gambians. For these reasons, it plays a pivotal role in our economy. The APRCs policies and programmes in this sector will be driven by the overriding Vision 2020 objective of transforming The Gambia into a tourist paradise. Our countrys physical features, which make it the smiling coast, combined with our cultural diversity, the sunshine, the hospitality and friendliness of our people and The Gambias proximity to Europe and the Americas, give our country a distinctive advantage in this sector.
The average growth rate of 4.5 per cent registered by the sector in recent years will be improved upon. This will be done through a conscious revitalisation campaign and an aggressive promotional drive in the sector, the construction of more hotels as well as product innovation, quality improvement, improvements on investment returns and the diversification of The Gambias tourism product. The APRC government will place premium on diversified and innovative tourism in order to attract high-value and high spending tourists, without impairing our socio-cultural values. Attractive incentives will be offered for summer tourism while the development of eco-tourism will be strongly encouraged. The APRC government will establish an autonomous body called the Gambia Tourism Authority, which will be charged with the responsibility of effectively marketing The Gambia as an attractive tourist destination.
The Mass Media including the print media have the arduous task of playing the lead-role in informing and educating the people in their desire to know what is happening, how and when it is doing so and how it would affect their lives. This calls for a free, constructive and responsible Press Corps.
The APRC will encourage constructive criticism and investigative journalism. This calls for a renewal of attitudes and concepts to make the media a notable instrument for the mobilization of the people for the building of their self-confidence in a self-reliant economy.
Although small by geographic land size, The Gambia, under the APRC Government, has become synonymous with peacemaker. The conduct of APRCs foreign policy will be centered on the 3 Ds Defence, Dignity and Development.
It will be guided by the following basic principles:
o non-interference in the internal affairs of other states and peaceful co-existence with all our neighbours;
o sovereignty and equality of states;
o respect for democracy and human rights
o promotion of peace, understanding and international cooperation.
The APRC will continue to search and advocate strongly for peace, stability friendship and co-operation, and will always condemn military conflicts in the resolution of our differences particularly in our sub-region and Africa generally. The APRC will encourage the option for dialogue and peaceful resolution of conflicts and differences. We eschew the “beggar-my-neighbour” policy. We are committed to developing trade and cooperation between The Gambia and her neighbours on the one hand and among nations of the South on the other. Under the APRC, The Gambia will promote friendliness and maintain good neighbourliness with all her neighbours
In the implementation of its foreign policy, the APRC will take steps to safeguard the national security of The Gambia by promoting regional and global peace without which socio-economic development would be impossible as well as by promoting international cooperation and investment for the economic and social development of The Gambia. The APRC will also promote regional economic co-operation in the interest of trade, peace and stability and support the observance of democracy and human right as a means of ensuring justice and equity for all peoples.
Under the APRC, The Gambia will continue to be an active member of the United Nations and its specialized agencies, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the African Union, the Commonwealth, the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and CILSS. The APRC will ensure that The Gambias voice is heard clearly in all international fora. The Gambia, as a responsible member of the international community, will continue to pursue dialogue as a mechanism for conflict resolution.