By Makutu Manneh

Buba Sanyang, a permanent secretary at the Ministry of Lands, Regional Government and Religious Affairs on Monday (15 May) informed the Local Government Commission of Inquiry that the budgets for local councils meant for developmental projects are unrealistic.

All local councils in The Gambia prepare their budget to implement developmental projects in their respective administrative areas. It is the requirement of law that sixty per cent (60%) of the budget for each of the councils is set-aside for the development of the area. The forty per cent (40 per cent) can be used for other needs of the council.

PS Sanyang said over the years the budget lines of the council and until now remains unrealistic. Is it the law that is unrealistic? Sanyang said the requirement of the law is that 60% is strictly for development. He testified that the reality at the council is that the councils come up with budgets just to satisfy the requirement of the law, but they do not have the funds to implement their developmental objectives.

This has become a situation whereby we will see a lot of development projects in the development budget, which in the first place are not intended to be spent because they are there only to equate the 40 and 60 per cent balance,” he said.

Sanyang said both councils and the Gambia Government are not fully prepared to ensure the realisation of the aspirations of the Decentralisation Policy. He cited the issue of the lack of proper structures for the devolution of power by the Government to the councils. He mentioned that he has never seen a request from any of the councils to the Government requesting to manage any of the facilities or services in their area.

“The Government decentralization policy is for the government to devolve power and resources upon request by the councils such that within a particular council’s jurisdiction, where government structures fall within, like health, education and other structures, their powers will be transferred to the local authorities as well as resources that is meant to upkeep those departments,” he said.

He maintained that in order for decentralization to take place, the local councils are expected to create the decentralized structures under them for the Policy to be actualized.

He testified that Government is required by law to take charge of 25% of the councils’ development budget, but it has not been fulfilling this legal requirement. He said the Government to the councils annually is 2 million dalasis.