By Saikou Suwareh Jabai
“Public debt ratio is 115% of GDP as at end Dec 2016. Total debt stock stood at D48.3 billion comprising D20.3 billion external and D28 billion domestic. The domestic debt increased from 54% to 67% of GDP from 2015 to 2016 respectively, compared with a marginal increase of the external debt from 46% to 48% of GOP from 2015 to 2016 respectively,” this was the shocking revelation made by the Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs at his office in Banjul during a press conference on Monday 20th February, 2016.
The minister, Mr. Amadou Sanneh, said the Real GDP growth of The Gambia has rebounded to 4.3 percent in 2015 from 0.9 percent in 2014. The improved economic activities continued in 2016 with growth expected to be within the long-term trend growth rate of 4-6 per cent.
The Minister said the total revenue and grants in 2017 is estimated at 14.34 billion from D12.99 billion budgeted, representing a growth of 10.4 per cent. He said domestic revenue is estimated at D8.5 in 2017 and that conversely, the Total Expenditure and net Lending is projected at D19.1 billion in 2017 from 16.9 billion budgeted in 2016. Of this, he added that, interest payments are estimated to be over D3 billion.
He revealed: “Fiscal deficit in 2017 is anticipated to increase to D4.7 billion (10 per cent of GDP) from D3.9 billion budgeted in 2016, representing a growth of 20.5 per cent. The estimated Net Domestic borrowing for the fiscal year is expected to be 10% of GDP. Public debt ratio is 115% of GDP as at end Dec 2016.”
Minister Sanneh said consumer price inflation measured by the National Consumer Price Index (NCPI) rose to 7.9 percent in December 2016 compared to 6.9 percent in the corresponding period in 2015, adding that both food and non-food inflation increased to 8.7 and 6.5 percent in December 2016 from 7.6 and 5.3 percent in 2015 respectively. He said the monetary policy rate has remained constant at 23 percent since April 2015.
He added: “Gross official reserves are US$68.75 million as at Feb 3rd 2017, while the net international reserves are at US$20.81. This is approximately less than 2 months of import cover.”
The Finance Minister said it could be clear that the Economy of The Gambia had been completely destroyed and part of the stories are related to the action of the then President Exiled Yaya Jammeh and his enablers. From the little investigations the Ministry conducted, he went on, some alarming and gross mismanagement of public funds were discovered that requires the attention of the Public.
Details of this report on the financial mismanagement in the Gamtel Gateway Revenue, Gambia Ports Authority and Social Security and Housing Finance Cooperation will be published in our next edition.