By Yusef Taylor, @FlexDan_YT
The Gambia’s National Assembly has revised the commencement of the Fourth Ordinary Session of the 2023 Legislative Year from 13th November to 17th November 2023. Parliament’s agenda highlights that the Elections Bill, the Anti-Corruption Bill and the 2024 Budget are all set for Parliamentary Approval before the end of the year. In addition to this, three private member’s Bills will be tabled for their first and second reading while four other Bills are scheduled to face their third and final reading.
Last week Tuesday 7th November 2023, Parliament’s Office of the Clerk issued a statement announcing that the Fourth Ordinary Session would be convened from “Monday 13th November – Friday 22nd December, 2023”. However, the following day, another statement was issued highlighting that the Fourth Ordinary Session will now be convened from “Friday 17th November – Friday 22nd December, 2023”. Attached to the press release was an Agenda which highlights Parliament’s schedule for the Fourth Ordinary Session.
2024 Budget to Pass by 12th December
Regarding the 2024 Budget, the Minister for Finance and Economic Affairs is scheduled to lay the 2024 Budget on 17th November 2023, after which a Pre-Budget Retreat will be held from 18th to 20th November 2023.
From 21st to 24th November 2023 the Parliament’s Committees will host bilateral consultations with portfolio Ministries and other stakeholders with their report expected to be completed by 26th November 2023. After all the consultations and meetings Parliament’s Finance and Public Accounts Committee (FPAC) will table their Consolidated Report on the 2024 Budget on 27th November 2023 which will be debated until 30th November 2023.
After all the amendments to the 2024 Budget are observed the Finance Minister will deliver his all-important 2024 Budget Speech on 8th December 2023 followed by approval of the 2024 Appropriation Bill on 12th December 2024.
Anti-Corruption Bill, Elections Bill and Others
The most talked about Anti-Corruption Bill will be tabled for its reconsideration stage on 18th December 2023 where clauses 2 and 75 will be reviewed. The Anti-Corruption Bill will then face its third reading on 21st December 2023. On that same day, the all-important Elections Bill and the Animal Health Bill will also face their third reading.
Another three Bills are earmarked to face the consideration stage on 14th December 2023, which is when Parliament goes through the Bills clause by clause to approve or reject any amendments. After the consideration of the Criminal Offences Bill, the Criminal Procedure Bill and the Legal Practitioners (Amendment) Bill, they will all be tabled for their third reading on 21st December 2023 which is when they are expected to be passed or rejected.
Three Private Member’s Bills Imminent
In the Third Ordinary Session of the 2023 Legislative Year, two private member’s Bills were successfully passed after being tabled by Hon Alhagie Mbow for Upper Saloum (Constitution [Amendment] Bill 2023) and Hon Amadou Camara for Nianija (Medicines and Related Products [Amendment} Bill 2023). In a similar development, the Fourth Ordinary Session will see three members table Bills for their First Reading on 14th December 2023. The Private Members Bills to be tabled are;
- The Rent (Amendment) Bill by Hon Madi M K Ceesay for Serrekunda West,
- The Local Government (Amendment) Bill by Hon Yahya Sanyang for Latrikunda Sabiji and
- The Public Order (Amendment) Bill by Hon Sulayman Saho for Central Baddibu.
In addition to this, the Vice President is scheduled to table the National Social Protection Bill while the Minister for Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment is also scheduled to table the Gambia Legal Metrology Bill for its first reading on the same day. All these five aforementioned Bills will face their second reading on 19th December 2023 after which it will face a vote to either continue considering the Bills or to reject them.
Parliamentary Questions, Treaties and Adjournment Debate
One of the opportunities which Parliamentarians have to hold the Executive accountable is by asking probing Parliamentary questions to cabinet Ministers and the Vice President. Members will have two rounds of Questions for Oral Answers with the first round scheduled for 13th December 2023 while the second round will be held on 20th December 2023. Before all this, three international treaties are expected to be tabled for ratification on 5th December 2023 while the Adjournment Debate will be held on 21st December 2023 and conclude on 22nd December 2023. The Adjournment Debate signifies the end of a Parliamentary Session and in this case the end of the 2023 Legislative Year.