It is a constitutional provision that the minister for Finance and Economic Affairs tables before the National Assembly the financial statement of the government for approval before the start of any new fiscal year.
Exactly one year ago, the minister stood before this very same august gathering to present the budget for the 2012 fiscal year. Since then, The Gambia has maintained a sustained economic growth and our international reserve position remains comparatively stable. And again, the Finance minister presented the 2013 budget to deputies seeking their approval to enable the government enhance the Programme for Accelerated Growth and Development.
It would be recalled that the government of The Gambia through the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs launched the Programme for Accelerated Growth and Employment (PAGE) at the very end of the second Poverty Reduction Strategy Programme with a view to enhance further the productive base of the economy through maximising its growth potentials which will in turn accommodate employment.
Development by itself is an evolutionary process and requires ever changing policies and structures to achieve its objectives. PAGE, if successfully implemented, will greatly expedite our development. The indication therefore that the 2013 Budget will focus on PAGE by the Finance minister shows that the political will is in place to guarantee its success.
After all, the relevance and timeliness of PAGE cannot herein be overemphasised. Statistical data shows that in spite of the huge success registered by the PRSP, poverty and unemployment continue to pose challenges to national development. The initiation of PAGE as a national programme to replace PRSP to curb these two social menaces shows the readiness of the state to accomplish the national development blueprint.
We would make a thorough analysis of the 2013 Budget and break it down for the common person in our subsequent editions. But for now all what we can do is to encourage all stakeholders in development to embrace PAGE with open arms and integrate with government to ensure the realisation of its objectives.
There is in place the necessary infrastructure, and the political will needed to make the programme work. The challenge is for all and sundry to adopt to the demands, commitments and dynamics that this programme require, so that collectively we can reduce poverty and unemployment.