By Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA)
On the 27 July 2021, the National Assembly Service Act 2021 was passed into law in The Gambia. The Act establishes a National Assembly Service and a supervisory Authority, chaired by the Speaker of the National Assembly. The Act ensures autonomy for the Assembly in relation to the administration and financial management of the Legislature. This reform brings the National Assembly in line with international good practice, in particular the Commonwealth Latimer House Principles on the Separation of Powers.
Although the agenda for change was driven by the Legislature, the Bill was tabled by the Executive under a certificate of urgency to ensure it was passed with expediency. The establishment of the new Service and Authority comes alongside a broader agenda for change within The Gambia’s National Assembly since the new Parliament was established in 2017, in particular an updated set of Standing Orders.
Mr Kalipha MM Mbye, Director of the Table Office at the National Assembly of The Gambia, said:
“I am delighted to report that we were able to develop this Bill and ensure its successful passage to guarantee greater independence of the parliamentary service. The Bill was very much inspired by the CPA’s Model Law on Independent Parliaments”
The CPA Model Law on Independent Parliaments: Establishing Parliamentary Service Commissions for Commonwealth Legislatures was published in May 2020. The Model Law was designed to help empower parliaments to take control away from the executive to ensure it has the administrative, operational and financial resources needed to function effectively.
The legislative reform also comes off the back of the National Assembly’s self-assessment against the CPA Benchmarks for Democratic Legislatures to assess parliamentary excellence and achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goal 16, which took place in January 2020.
The CPA Secretary-General, Stephen Twigg said:
“The Gambia should be commended for its continued efforts to strengthen the independence and autonomy of the National Assembly. We are proud that our resources could be utilised to such good effect in the development of the National Assembly Services Act 2021. We remain committed to aid the Assembly in its ongoing reform agenda.”
This article was first published by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) on 23rd August 2021 in the link below. This was during the term of the Fifth Legsilature.