Members of the Joint Session of the Public Accounts and Public Enterprise Committee (PAC/PEC) of the National Assembly, chaired by Hon. Abdoulie Bojang Thursday described the management of the Management Development Institute (MDI) as 'outstanding', after going through the Institute's annual activity report and audited financial statement, and GPPA compliance rate for the year ended 31st December 2011.
Members in their interventions unanimously commended the director general and staff for the improvements at one of the country's tertiary institutions, which continues to impact positively in the effective service delivery of civil servants. The members also applauded MDI for complying with the Public Procurement Act, as it was rated substantially compliant by the Gambia Public Procurement Authority (GPPA).
They also commended the Institute for a well presented report and for adhering to the PAC/PEC recommendations last year, while encouraging the director-general and staff to keep up the momentum for the realisation of the desired goals by all.
Presenting the annual activity report earlier, Dr. Jainaba M.L Kah, the director general of MDI, began by thanking the National Assembly members who have been undergoing courses at the institution, both short and long term, noting that public service culture in modern times requires values of fair play, efficiency, and accountability.
She said: "Without this mindset and without commitment to professional standards, resource management, resource mobilisation and social interventions, reforms and development cannot be effectively executed for efficient service delivery."
The MDI director general who is also the dean of the School of Business and Public Administration at the University of The Gambia (UTG), averred that their commitment to a modern public service culture is immeasurable given the critical task of ensuring MDI delivers on its mandate to train and equip civil servants with requisite skills and knowledge to become more effective and accountable in the execution of their duties. MDI, she further stated, continues to spearhead a major transformation in management development in The Gambia and continues to achieve giant strides in equipping its clientèle to meet the challenges of the 21st Century.
"Within a professional staff complement of fifteen (15), and an additional thirteen (13) from the UTG, and almost thirty (30) adjuncts with specialisations ranging from public administration, education, economics and financial management to information technology, MDI is poised to play an effective role in the human resource development strategy of the government of The Gambia and also to serve the training, research and consultancy needs to partners within and outside of the Public Sector," she remarked.
DG Kah revealed that 2011-2012 has been a transformation period filled with unprecedented progress and successes. She told the Committee that in the academic year 2011-2012, they focused on leveraging the renewed commitment and hope people have in MDI by building partnerships and expanding their networks. She said during the year under review, the institution also spent more effort strengthening their operations by refining their systems, procedures and processes; and recruiting new talent.
She continued: "The ongoing transformation of MDI goes beyond the physical facelift from the imposing perimeter fence, iron gates and the new signage installed outside and within the campus, to the manicured lawn, the re-plastered walls and fresh coat of paint on buildings and classroom and administrative offices, the additional teaching block and recently completed library, outdoor learning space with metal benches and tables dotting the campus taking advantage of the shade from trees- all these indicate a renewed spirit to change our organisational culture and regain and reclaim the glory that was MDI's as the premier training institute for the Public Sector of The Gambia."
The MDI DG revealed that in 2011-2012, the rehabilitation and campus expansion continued with a new building (Resource Centre), funded by the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) fund for International Development, adding that an additional floor was constructed above the Resource Centre to house faculty and administrative offices and more classrooms. This second floor, she further revealed, was funded by the UTG and the UNDP.
"In addition to our regular course offerings, other major academic activities undertaken by MDI between 2011-2012 include the launching of a new Post-Graduate Diploma in Management run in collaboration with the Institute of Commercial Management (ICM) in the United Kingdom, which has approved the ICM Department at MDI as a centre," Dr Kah told the deputies, adding that the course is a nine-month programme, which starts in March and ends in December each year.
She further informed the Committee that they also delivered tailor-made courses to answer to the call of the government of The Gambia to reform and introduce information technology into the Civil Service. She added that about twenty-five tailor-made courses and consultancies were offered at MDI in 2011-2012.
Integration with UTG
According to her, all UTG's business and entrepreneurial related education, training, research and consultancy have been concentrated in the MDI campus in Kanifing since September 2009. She said in the academic year 2011-2012, MDI followed the National Assembly's PAC/PEC directive to halt integration implementation until the legal instruments are consolidated by the government's legal arm and presented to the Legislature for debate and ratification. She said currently, they have more than thirteen faculty members, four graduate assistants, two administrative officers and about 1, 521 students from UTG sharing the MDI campus with them.
The year under review, Kah went on, was a year of aggressive resource mobilisation campaign to supplement the revenues they receive from student tuitions and government subventions. She noted that MDI also partnered with the IDB through Gamworks under the Technical Assistance Agreement (Grant) on capacity Building in Project Management and the African Development Bank through the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs under the auspices of the Institutional Support for Economic and Financial Governance II Project.
"In 2009-2010, the institute benefited from a UNDP grant to establish and staff a new Consultancy and Research Division, UTG Consulting. During this period under the review, UTG consulting was awarded over twenty-five assignments. Thirteen of these have been completed while the remaining twelve are being implemented or awaiting implementation," Kah told the Committee. She added that in addition to these consultancy assignments, the institute through the Consultancy division has signed a number of MoUs with Government and NGOs.
Human resources, professional development
Dr. Kah informed the deputies that her management continues to work hard,in developing personnel, adding that professional development of human resources play a pivotal role in creating opportunities for sustainable advancement at MDI. This, she went on, requires new sets of skills, capabilities, competencies, capacities and most importantly, resources. She told the Committee that thirty-four faculty/staff benefited from international training and conferences in recent years.
Despite the many challenges they face such as inadequate funding, inadequate learning infrastructure, inability or unwillingness of students to pay tuition resulting in huge receivables, and non-competitive salaries and conditions of service to attract highly qualified lecturers, the DG said they are working hard to renew, re-engineer and transform MDI to meet the expectations of expanding access and strengthening quality.
"We continue to focus on training and development in order to contribute to the building of an effective, efficient and development-oriented public service with a cadre of public servants that demonstrate a set of values, ethos and culture committed to the spirit of serving with pride the people of The Gambia," she assured. She thanked the entire MDI faculty, staff, board and ancillary support staff for their dedication and hard work. She also thanked the Gambian leader for entrusting her with the task of rebuilding MDI, while pleading with the National Assembly to be its advocate and demand that their budget be increased.
For his part, Dawda Fadera, the chairperson of MDI Board, said the institution is more than ever committed to improve in terms of capacity building under the current director general. According to him, the management has invested so much last year, something he said has paid dividend at MDI.
Zill Jatta, the MDI accountant, revealed that the institution's total income was D24, 479, 704 in 2011, compared to D25, 065, 440 in 2010. He said the total expenditure was D22, 294, 228, giving them a surplus income of D2, 185, 476, compared to D23, 916, 163 in 2010 with an income surplus of D1, 149, 277.
Samba J.B Tambura, a compliance officer at The Gambia Public Procurement Authority (GPPA) said MDI was found to substantially compliant with the Public Procurement Act and Regulations.
Members then raised comments, recommendations, and questions, which were responded to by officials of MDI before the report was finally adopted.