By Omar Bah
The leader of the Gambia Moral Congress has said his party rejects the continuous politicisation of the civil service.
“The current state of the civil service as inherited requires a total overhaul in order for competence, merit, objectivity and commitment to duty be entrenched. Key among the anomalies are the continuous excessive politicisation of the civil service, patronage and lack of honest commitment to public welfare,” Mai Fatty told The Standard in an exclusive interview.
The former interior minister said GMC considers civil service reform key to enabling The Gambia transition to a middle-income economy.
He disclosed that a Cabinet Paper on civil service reform was concluded over a year ago, but argued that nothing has happened since.
However, Fatty said it is encouraging that the draft constitution removes the office of secretary general from the President’s office.
“It is envisaged that a Secretary General will focus fully and exclusively on the civil service and move away from State House. Such a progressive law would enable an SG champion the civil service reform agenda of the government,” Fatty noted.
“The government may have so much on its plate, but we must never forget that Gambians elected our government on a specific and clear mandate on promised reforms. If we change the laws and the institutions remain in their existing state, it defeats the purpose. Institutional reforms should go side by side with ongoing legislative reforms”.
Fatty said government should revert to its original mandate on its reform agenda, which was the fulcrum of its election manifesto in December 2016.
“So far, only the SSR appears on a sluggish course with donor support. Even a successful SSR implementation would be less impactful without a reformed civil service,” he said.
He argued that a strong civil service will spur professionalism and build strong institutions.
“It would be a massive waste of tax payers’ money to repeat old mistakes, including lack of political will and commitment to abide by stipulated rules and budget guidelines. This led to high incidence of extra budgetary expenditures and the breakdown of medium to long-term plans to guide the budgeting process, with projects implemented haphazardly without proper evaluation and coordination.
“And a weak institutional mechanism for regulating the actions of tiers of government and their agencies. These problems have led to a heavy debt burden, huge recurrent expenditure burdens, inefficient public delivery services and distortions in incentive structures for both the public and private. Cumulative deficits for the past years are staggering, as all sectors of government spend far more than they earned.
“The 2020 budget is not a balanced budget and is just what The Gambia does not need. At GMC, we understand the issues thoroughly. We know how to fix them,” he concluded.