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BANJUL, Gambia, February 23, 2018/ — Honorable Minister of Finance & Economic Affairs of The Gambia;

The Secretary-General and Honorable Ministers here present,

Colleagues at the High Table;

Excellencies Ambassadors, Heads of Regional and International Organizations and Development Partners;

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen;

Madam, we thank the AfDB for organizing this forum. I give you a high five for that!

It is my honour to be here with you today, and my pleasure to convey greetings from the United Nations Secretary-General, Mr. Antonio Guterres, to this august gathering. The Secretary-General has been keenly following events in The Gambia and has expressed his support for the Government of President Adama Barrow. He commended the unity of ECOWAS and the restraint of the Gambian people in defending democracy and avoiding conflict during his maiden address to the AU Summit as UN Secretary-General.

The democratic transition in The Gambia has been a triumph of collective efforts, working in unity and providing an exemplary example for Africa. We must now consolidate this peaceful and democratic transition and I call on the international community and development partners to continue to support the new Government of The Gambia.

It is under these auspices that we are here today at this Advocacy Meeting on The Gambia’s National Development Plan 2018-2021. I would like to congratulate the Government of The Gambia particularly, His Excellency President Adama Barrow for his leadership and vision in producing this essential document that will serve as the blueprint for advancing sustainable development in in the country over the next 4 years.

This National Development Plan is the product of countless inputs and perspectives of a wide array of stakeholders in the development process. It is a plan that charts the way to a better future; a future where the highest standards of governance, accountability and transparency are upheld; where social cohesion and peace prevail; where all citizens can enjoy a decent standard of living and live their lives in dignity.

Now is the time for The Gambia to move forward and implement the transformational agenda of the Government to revitalize the economy and create the enabling environment for all citizens to realize their full potential and improve their well-being.

This Plan is not for the Government alone to implement, successful implementation will require support from all stakeholders within and outside of the country. This Plan is a reflection of the national development priorities of the Gambian people and the priorities identified provide the opportunity for each and every citizen to empower themselves and ensure no one is left behind.

Excellencies, Distinguished ladies and gentlemen,

The Plan incorporates lessons learnt and is fully aligned to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Africa Agenda 2063 and other global and regional commitments that represent the comprehensive global nexus needed to make sustainable development a reality for The Gambia. The 8 strategic priorities and 7 critical enablers cover all 17 goals of the SDGs.

Laying ‘the foundation for an infrastructure for peace’ was one of the objectives of the government cabinet retreat held in May 2017 that formed the basis of this National Development Plan. We acknowledge that development gains will be critical to ensure national reconciliation, that societies and groups remain in harmony with each other, and see themselves reflected in the course that is charted for the country. We also take note of the implementation of the first phase of the Security Sector Reform process launched by His Excellency, the President in September 2017. Strong coordination of support to the SSR and government leadership in the process will allow for peace and stability to prevail in the country.

This Plan is holistic in its approach and is underlined by the five fundamental Ps of sustainable development, namely focus on people, prosperity, planet, peace and partnerships.

The subsequent results for The Gambia for the Plan period is the establishment of a more resilient society, where people are safe from chronic threats such as abject poverty, hunger, disease, and violence while also ensuring protection from sudden and hurtful disruptions in their daily lives.

Excellencies, Distinguished ladies and gentlemen,

The youth are central to The Gambia’s development and her future. The Plan has rightly taken young people as a priority and provides key interventions for their empowerment and well-being. I thank all partners supporting the youth. Youth empowerment and the provision of jobs for them are a priority for Africa and for the continent to reach the levels of development we aspire towards, the youth must be included in the decision-making process and given a voice to address their challenges.

Your Excellency, Partners, Ladies & Gentlemen,

Implementation of this transformative plan for The Gambia cannot take place without closing the financing gap and having a plan that is fully funded at all levels. Development partners, must assist the Government to mobilize financing for the Plan. It is therefore critical The Gambia must leverage all the opportunities available, including existing and emerging partnerships, to finance this development plan. That is the main objective of our gathering here today. Moving forward, resource mobilization efforts will continue with the UN, the AfDB, the EU and World Bank supporting an International Conference for The Gambia in May 2018. Of utmost importance is mobilizing the development partners and the private sector to play a key role in the funding of the plan.

Let me reassure you, of the United Nations’ continuous and unflinching commitment to supporting the national development agenda of The Gambia to ‘revitalize and transform the economy for the well-being of all Gambians.’  I myself have visited The Gambia many times over the past two years, including during the past week when I joined Gambians in celebrating their Independence and one year anniversary of the new Government, and would like to reiterate the support of the United Nations, and indeed the international community at large to the people of The Gambia to consolidate democratic and economic achievements realized thus far.

I once again congratulate the people of The Gambia, President Barrow and his Government for the progress being made to remake the future of the nation. The National Development Plan is an opportunity for the Gambian people to strive for a future worthy of this great nation, a chance for national reconciliation, social harmony and respect for the rule of law and human rights to prevail as prescribed in the Gambian constitution and international laws. Let us join forces to grasp this opportunity.

And the key take away for the development partners is please come to Brussels in your numbers in May, when a date is confirmed, with GRANTS: DES DONS!!! I am impressed with today’s turn out – let’s keep it up!

I thank you for your attention.

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