By Makutu Manneh
A press release from the Office of the President informs the public that the country expects to record an economic growth of 6.0 percent this year. The press release said this was disclosed at a recent meeting of members of the National Economic Council (NEC), and said the above growth can be achieved through the full recovery of the tourism sector; the easing of the commodity price shocks; continuous performance of the private sector, agriculture and infrastructure. The release also states that considering that the country relies ‘heavily’ on imports for fuel and essential commodities while doing minimal export of local products, the global situation continues to pose risks to inflation coupled with a rise in the exchange rate; an upsurge in global commodity prices and policy tightening.
“The positive news was that the current reserves are sufficient to cover around 6.6 months of prospective imports of goods and services,” the release stated; That it the total value of imports have increased from D36.5 million in 2021 to almost D3.3 billion, representing an 8,918% increment in imports, with the top main imports in 2022 being petroleum products, vehicles, spare parts, cereals and mainly rice.
That on the other hand, the total value of exports has increased from D567 million in 2021 to D1.2 billion in 2022, representing a 124% increase in exports, and the top main exports for 2022 are edible fruits and nuts, fish and fishery products, vegetables and processed nuts.
The release continued that the Gambia Revenue Authority (GRA) in fiscal year 2022, collected D12.6 billion representing a performance rate of 93.4 per cent. However, it further stated that government’s subsidy to ease the burden on citizens has reached D1.6 billion, therefore hindering GRA from reaching its domestic revenue collection target.
The office of the president further informed the public that GRA is building on its processes to improve domestic collection further and seal leakages from tax payments. It stated that the implementation of the ‘Single Window System’ is expected to take effect in 2023 whereby the system will integrate and connect all stakeholders in the clearance process, and is expected to bring greater efficiencies in customs operation.
“A similar effort is being made at the Accountant General’s Department, operationalising the payment platform to improve revenue collection across all revenue collecting institutions. In addition, it developed a system to manage the payment of Alkalo’s allowances, computation of pensions and gratuities and the roll out of the IFMIS system to improve accountability at the central and decentralised levels. In addition, the extension of Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) to autonomous institutions, uses IFMIS to minimise the check and cash handling risks,” the release stated.