The National Assembly is fondly referred to as the 2nd Estate or 2nd Arm of Government. The Assembly is the Supreme Law making body of the State and therefore a vital arm of government.
Procedure in the National Assembly is as provided for in the Constitution and according to the STANDING ORDERS OF THE ASSEMBLY. The functions and powers of the National Assembly are as provided for in the 1997 Constitution of The Gambia Chapter VII parts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5.
The Legislative Function Law making- Passing of Bills, Protocols and Conventions- Bills passed by the National Assembly and assented to by the President Bill becomes law as an Act of the National Assembly, Authorizing the Raising and levy of taxes, Appropriation of Public Expenditure, review and approve proposals for the raising of revenue by the Government and the levying of taxes. Bills can also be passed under a certificate of urgency signed by the president as per SECTION 101 OF THE CONSTITUTION OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE GAMBIA 1997.
Scrutiny/Oversight function: receive and review reports on the activities of the Government and such other reports as are required to be made in accordance with the Constitution Representation The National Assembly is currently composed of (53) fifty-three members, (48) forty-eight elected from the constituencies demarcated by the Boundaries Commission and (5) five nominated by the President of the Republic. The Term of Parliament is (5) five years and the current term expires come January 2012. There are forty- two (42) elected Members of the Majority Party – APRC five (5) Nominated Members and six (6) opposition Members (UDP four (4), NADD one (1) and Independent one (1). The Speaker is the Head of the Institution and ranks third in the official order of the Gambia Government. The Assembly currently comprises four (4) female Members (two of who are elected and two nominated) and forty-nine (49) male Members, three (3) of who are nominated.
There are (10) ten Standing Committees, (15) fifteen Select Committees and (3) three Parliamentary Friendship Associations – Cuba, Mauritania and Saudi Arabia, Senegal (Guinea Bissau). Standing Committees are statutory in other words authorized by law. Examples are the Public Appointments Standing Committee, the Finance and Public Accounts Standing Committee, the Standing Committee on Privileges, Standing Committee on Defence and Security.
Committees may be appointed to investigate or inquire into the activities or administration of ministries or departments and to investigate any matter of public importance. According to the Constitution committees shall have all of the powers, rights and privileges as are vested in the High Court. International Organizations The National Assembly of The Gambia is also a member of the CPA (Commonwealth Parliamentary Association), and the IPU (Inter-Parliamentary Union).
It is also a constituent of the ECOWAS Parliament in Abuja, the Pan-African Parliament in Midrand, South Africa and is soon taking up its place in the ACP EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly. The Assembly meets at least once every quarter as Ordinary Sessions. There is provision for Emergency and/or Extra-Ordinary Session as may be required by the President of the Republic – UNDER SECTION 98 SUB SECTION 1 (a). In such a situation the President of the Republic may request the Speaker of the National Assembly to call an extra-ordinary under a certificate of emergency signed by him. The work of the National Assembly is enhanced and supported by an Assembly Service of (48) forty-eight staff members headed by the Clerk.
The National Assembly Service is part of the Public Service but autonomous from the Public Service Commission and from control of the Personnel Management Office. The Assembly now has its own Administrative Service known as the National Assembly Service supervised by an independent Authority – (the National Assembly Authority). This makes provision for the total separation of the Legislature form the Executive.