At least 20 journalists from the print, broadcast and online media houses across the country were recently sensitised on the roles and functions of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs, and the National Audit Office.
Organised by the Gambia Press Union, the virtual sessions were organised to get the reporters au fait with the work of these institutions, especially as regards the national budget development, execution and oversight processes. The forum with the ministry of finance was held on Thursday and the National Audit Office on Friday.
The two sessions were part of engagements the Union is undertaking as part of a project to support journalists to effectively report on the national budget. The project is supported by the International Republican Institute (IRI) in line with efforts to further promote fiscal transparency and accountability in The Gambia.
Lamin Jahateh, GPU program manager, said the sessions were designed to bring key national budget institutions to explain their roles in budget development and execution process.
The main objective, he said, is to enhance the understanding of journalists and increase the coverage of budgetary issues.
Jahateh said as part of the IRI-funded project, the GPU has also been financially and technically supporting journalists to report on the national budget with a view to increase the dissemination of public information on the budget.
During the Thursday engagement with the Ministry of Finance, Maria Azzi Tanbadou, principal economist at the ministry, said the ministry has many directorates and units and that the Directorate of Budget is the one responsible for the formulation, execution and monitoring of the national budget.
She said the budget process in The Gambia starts in March each year with the preparation of macroeconomic framework which sets out the national priorities and sector ceilings for the next fiscal year.
On Friday, the National Audit Office senior manager, Sering Mass Jallow, said the NAO is a creation of the national constitution of The Gambia, and the office is headed by the Audit General.
He said the Auditor General is mandated to certify withdrawals from the Consolidated Fund, the central government account domiciled at the Central Bank of The Gambia.
The NAO is also mandated to financially audit all ministries, departments and agencies that receive public fund to certify that that public funds are spent in such manner as to reduce waste, eliminate in-efficiency and maximise the benefits to be gained from the use of resources.
Meanwhile, the sessions with the Ministry of Finance and National Audit Office were part of a series of sensitisation workshops that the Union is to organise with key institutions in the national budget development and execution process such as Central Bank of The Gambia, Accountant General’s Office, and the National Assembly.