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Minister says public debt stock stands at D67.7 billion

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By: Kebba AF Touray

Mr. Mambury Njie, the Gambia’s Finance Minister, has informed the nation that public debt stock, as at end September 2020, stands at D67.6 billion (71 percent of GDP), when compared to D71.3 billion (81 percent of GDP) in the same period in 2019.”

Finance Minister Njie said this on Friday 4th December 2020, during the budget speech at the Legislative House in Banjul.

He said: “Of the total public debt stock, domestic debt constitutes D32.1 billion (34 percent of GDP) while external debt constitutes D35.5 billion (37 percent of GDP) in 2020. During this period of weak economic performance due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on business activities, the Central Bank has maintained an accommodative monetary policy stance, keeping the Policy Rate at 10 percent.”

On the fiscal front, he indicated that domestic revenue collection is projected to gradually increase from an estimated D13.6 billion (14 percent of GDP) for the 2020 fiscal year to D13.7 billion (13 percent of GDP) in 2021.

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“Total grants are projected to increase from D7.3 billion in 2020 to D12 billion in 2021. This is mainly due to an increase in project grants expected for the coming fiscal year. However, budget support grants is expected to decline in 2021, as a significant amount received in 2020 was from development partners to help support our budget in COVID-19 expenditure”, said Minister Njie

He also cited that total expenditure is expected to increase significantly from D25.6 billion in 2020 to D31.9 billion in 2021, and that the source of this increase, is from personnel and other current expenditure, while capital expenditure on the other hand would experience a decline.

He indicated that headline inflation, as measured by the National Consumer Price Index has declined by 2.4 percent year-on-year from 7.6 percent in September 2019, to 5.2 percent in September 2020, with a decline in Food inflation, which is the main driver of headline inflation  to 6.6 percent in September 2020 from the 7.2 percent recorded in September 2019.

He decried that the pandemic has adversely impacted the execution of the budget as approved by the National Assembly, as such the Ministry embarked on the revision of the 2020 budget, to better re-direct resources towards prevention, treatment and containment of the pandemic through cuts and reallocation of funds from travel, training and other general expenses.

He indicated: “The revision yielded D500 million which was set aside as an Emergency COVID-19 Response Fund”.

He said: “In order to effectively tackle the pandemic, the government had to restructure and reprioritize its objectives. This was critical as our health system came under an overwhelming pressure from the outbreak, as a result, a package of measures to stimulate economic recovery articulated in a Supplementary Appropriation, which was approved by the National Assembly.”

Minister Njie said the Government has taken some steps to cover the unexpected expenditures that have come up during the course of the year.

The steps included the nationwide distribution of food relief package, budget for three months wages and salaries of workers in the tourism and aviation sectors and local government authorities.

Minister Njie further explained that the World Bank provided The Gambia a grant of US$10 million for the purchase of medical equipment and supplies, US$13.5 million for social safety net programs and the education sector, adding they also received US$14 million from African Development Bank to strengthen  the health system.

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