In its 2018-2021 National Development Plan (NDP), The Gambia demonstrated its commitment to the African Agenda 2063 and to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs). The NDP was developed after the fall of an autocratic regime that ruled The Gambia for more than two decades, from 1994 until 2017, and hindered the country’s development through the maladministration of budget resources. The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) reported in 2019 that the administration of Yahya Jammeh plundered nearly $1 billion during his reign. Focused on building strong democratic institutions and promoting socioeconomic growth, the NDP has eight strategic priorities aligned with the SDGs. Achieving these goals will require sufficient budget allocations and the discipline to adhere to them. Both are prerequisites to improving public service delivery and social welfare while deterring macroeconomic backlash—a looming risk for small economies like that of The Gambia.
When governments deviate from their approved budget during implementation, it is known as budget credibility. This can deprioritize spending in the social sectors. The SDGs recognize this challenge with indicator 16.6.1, which looks at government expenditures relative to the approved budget. This research brief examines the central government budget of The Gambia from 2018-2020, looking at the differences between the approved and executed budgets in seven sectors that relate to 11 SDGs: agriculture and food, education, environment, gender equity and social protection, health, justice and strong institutions, and water and sanitation.