On Monday, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs organized a dialogue forum on the 2023 Citizens’ Budget document through the Budget Directorate to openly discuss the 2023 budget.
The Citizens’ Budget document is a simplified version of the National Budget which summarises the approved budget for better understanding by the general public.
Citizens are the primary beneficiaries of the Government budget, so they must thoroughly understand the National Budget to encourage active participation in formulation, execution, and monitoring. Furthermore, such participation allows Citizens to highlight their aspirations and concerns.
This year’s Citizens’ Budget dialogue forum brought together representatives of CSOs and relevant stakeholders to highlight the details of the simplified 2023 National Budget, the budget process, and the role of the various actors in the budget process.
Mod A.K Secka, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs, informed stakeholders that the forum forms part of his Ministry’s intention to promote transparency and accountability, thereby increasing Citizens’ engagement in the budget process.
He recognized the critical role of Civil Society in stimulating discussion for a participatory budget.
The National budget is an enacted document by the National Assembly that shows the total revenue expected to be raised by the government from tax collection, fees, and other sources of funding, which is in turn used to fund government administrative and development programs with the sole aim to improve lives of citizens through quality and affordable public service delivery.
The Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs said the 2023 budget is prepared based on the objectives of continued recovery and building an inclusive and resilient economy.
Niyongabo Ephrem, Country Economist, World Bank, described the dialogue as a critical step in the budget process. He said the concept of an open budget is a key to a credible and transparent process, something his office is here to support.
Marr Nyang, Executive Director of Gambia Participates, a pro-fiscal organization working on fiscal transparency and accountability, said his office has been working with the Ministry since 2020 on a simplified budget for easy comprehension. He expressed delight at the improvement registered by The Gambia in the Open Budget Survey between 2019 and 2021.
Through the Budget Directorate, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs has produced the Citizens’ Budget since 2014 to promote participatory budgeting, transparency, and accountability.
After the forum, the CSOs, such as Gambia Participates, plan to visit and engage average Gambians as to what they want in the budget.