The President of the republic of The Gambia, Adama Barrow said Gambians can only enjoy peaceful co-existence if they continue to embrace diversity.
He made these remarks on the occasion of The Gambia’s 53rd independence Anniversary at the July 22nd Square in Banjul, On Sunday 18th February 2018.
In his Anniversary speech, the president said peace is “priceless” and added that his government is working tirelessly in safeguarding the peace in the country, to be able to set his development agenda in the right path.
He revealed that all have specific responsibilities and urged the citizenry to take the responsibilities upon themselves and be accountable to the citizenry, regardless of any background for the success of the country.
He said that the country have won the war against dictatorship, which is the easiest part, but insists that maintaining the peace for Gambia`s democracy is the utmost challenge.
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According to him, this will require patience, tolerance and correcting errors, as the country work towards perfecting the new Gambia.
“The Gambia have been re-admitted to the Commonwealth of Nations, due mainly to its efforts to promote democracy, respect for human rights and rule of law”, said Barrow.
“In shaping the new Gambia, my government has begun the task of steadily reforming the government machinery.
“The reforms will put in place the instrument for best practices, we formulate in our government through the policies in the execution of our duties.
“This will also include cultural and attitudinal change in the timely execution and delivery of our work, in which regards, my government will focus on the quality of work expected of public servants.”
He noted that under his regime every artificial barriers that will prevent the application of creativity, innovation in service delivery will be completely removed and that within a year his government have been able to remove such major huddles, which is management by fear by creating an enabling environment that encourages critical thinking, collaboration, positive engagement, guided by a peer vision in the quest to building the new Gambia.
“This plan is our national blueprint that will ensure the New Gambia is put on a firm putting to deliver good governance, accountability, social cohesion, national reconciliation and the revitalization and transformation of the economy for the well-being of all Gambians”, said Barrow.
President Barrow highlighted fixing the energy problem, improvement of the agricultural subsector, youth empowerment, education and tourism as his government’s top priorities in line with the national development plan.
He described 2017 as a challenging year in starting the transformation process, due to the inheritance of a non-functional system and structure.
He added that his government has registered modest improvements such as the improvement of macroeconomic performance by improving the import cover from one to four months, improvement of power supply across the country, cutting of expenses and reduction of borrowing inter alia, which have significantly benefited companies and individuals.
On justice and judicial reforms, President Barrow said the Constitutional Review Commission, Truth, Reconciliation and Reparation Commission and the Human Rights Commission have been enacted and that the executive Secretary for the TRRC has also been appointed.
“At this juncture, I will use this opportunity to declare a moratorium on the use of the death penalty in The Gambia as a first call towards abolition.
“The security sector reform assessment has also been completed and will guide the program design and implementation”,
He said the country have also secured U$75 million grant from the Chinese for the construction of roads and bridges in the Upper River Region and further said that The Gambia is opened for business and have taken steps to facilitate trade and provide incentives for investment in the country.
“We have formulated several policies to enhance our trade relations and better integrate The Gambia in the multilateral trading system.
“The trade facilitation agreement that have been ratified, The Gambia was successfully reinstated into the African Growth and Opportunity Act, which provides duty free market access to the United States”, said Barrow.
President Barrow revealed increment in the price of groundnut from D16, 850 last year to D18, 800 per ton this year; that the Islamic Development Bank also provided U$25 million for the government to support farmers with groundnut seeds and fertilizers.
He added that the Agriculture and Natural Resource Policy 2017-2026 has been reviewed to boost and add value to agriculture, that the ministry of Fisheries, Water Resources and National Assembly matters and the Ministry of Justice reviewed the Fisheries regulation 2008 to make it more relevant to their current realities and have signed an agreement with FTI Tour Operators to boost tourism in the country and build the capacity of the young people in the sector.
“MRC Holland Foundation has supported the construction of 477 new classrooms in 50 schools, 300 classrooms renovated, 520 toilets, 28 schools and staff quarters built and solarized and 29 boreholes dug in 29 schools.
“The curriculum review processes is ongoing and are building on existing programs to enhance access to quality education including early childhood education and 75 teachers in various declines are undergoing their graduate studies at the UTG with support from the World Bank and Global Partnership for education”, said President Barrow.
He said his government is preparing an Information Bill and a committee on media law reform has been set up to review the existing media laws to support the drafting of media laws that are in line with media development and communication technology, with a view to strengthen freedom of the media.
President Barrow challenged students to be responsible citizens and be steadfast in their academic endeavors to become experts in their various domains, respect for the rule of law and have positive attitude towards nation building. He said these domains are needed to achieve a successful nation, which can only be attained through hard work, noting that there is no shortcut to success.
“Therefore am calling on both parents and teachers to redouble their efforts to instill discipline, hard work, truthfulness, self-reliance and love for nation before self. It is with such values that can make The Gambia great again”, said Barrow.