Fisheries Minister Moves Bill to Guarantee Parliamentary Independence


By: Kebba AF Touray

The Gambia’s Fisheries Minister James F. Gomez appeared before the National Assembly on Tuesday 27th July 2021, and tabled a bill entitled ‘National Assembly Service Bill 2021.’

In moving the said bill, Minister Gomez informed the legislators that the bill seeks to generally broaden the legal framework and specifically give effects to section 111 of the 1997 constitution of the Gambia, which establishes the National Assembly Service and its supervisory body (the National Authority).

According to Mr. Gomez, the bill provides for the National Assembly authority to oversee the institution of parliament and effectively account for its administration, operational and financial independence from the Executive, in line with regional and international parliamentary standards and principles of parliamentary development; that like parliaments across the Commonwealth and beyond that have legislations to guarantee and govern their operational and financial independence, it is envisaged that the bill will enable the National Assembly of the Gambia to do the same for its own affairs.

“It is against this backdrop that this bill is brought before this august Assembly for consideration and enactment under a special procedure, given its importance in our democratic dispensation. I move that the bill entitled an act establishing national service to provide support for the National Assembly and for connected matters, be read a second time,” he told Members.

The first Member to react to the Minister was the Member for Foni Bintang Karanai Momodou Camara. After seconding the Minister, the Member said the bill once enacted, will ensure effective and efficient performance of the legislature in the conduct of their work.

“The bill seeks to broaden the legal framework of the Assembly and specifically give effect to Section 111 of the 1997 Constitution which establishes the National Assembly Service Commission. It is long overdue but the Assembly is making history by enacting this bill,” he said.  

Camara said the current legislature is not independent and that the bill seeks to strengthen parliament as well as define the democratic process of the current parliament to ensure the effective and smooth running of the Assembly.

He applauded Government for coming up with the bill, stressing that the Gambian parliament is the only legislature within the Commonwealth jurisdiction that did not have such legislation.