Gambia’s Economy Bouncing Back Robustly after Covid-19, Says IMF

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IMF Banjul Mission team speaking to the media at the end of their visit.

By: Kebba Ansu Manneh

The Gambian economy has shown strong growth since the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, primarily due to the expansion of agriculture, services, telecommunications, and construction, a team from Washington DC-based International Monetary Fund ( IMF) told Journalists in Banjul as they concluded thier Banjul mission from April 23 to March 3, 2024.

Ivohasina Fizara Razafimahefa, IMF team leader to Banjul, disclosed this information at a press conference on March 3, 2024, after discussions with Gambian authorities were completed and a staff-level agreement was reached on the first review of the program under the 36-month ECF agreement approved in January 2024.

He also disclosed that the conclusion of the review would enable the disbursement of SDR 8.29 million (about US$10.9 million), bringing the total disbursement under the agreement to about US$21.8 million out of SDR 74.64 million (about US$98.4 million) allocated under the program. He noted that this funding disbursement is subject to approval by the Executive Board of the International Monetary Funds.

“Economic activity continues to recover robustly. Economic growth is estimated at 5.3 percent for 2023, supported by good agricultural, services, telecommunication, and construction performance. Tourist arrival continued to increase in 2023 but remains below pre-pandemic levels,” Ivohasina Fizara Razafimahefa disclosed.

“Remittance inflows also show a sustained good performance. Inflation eased from a peak of 18. 5 percent (year on year) in September 2023 to 14.9 percent at the end of March 2024 but remains well above the Central Bank’s medium-term objective of 5 percent.

He highlighted that the Central Bank of The Gambia is committed to maintaining a tight monetary policy stance to ensure that inflation firmly declines, adding that the Bankers Bank will also continue close implementation of the recently introduced foreign exchange policy to prevent re-emergence of foreign exchange shortages.

“Policy discussions focused on preserving the hard-won macroeconomic gains and supporting strong, inclusive economic growth. Fiscal policy in 2024 will remain anchored on the budget parameters approved by the National Assembly,” IMF Team Leader further elaborated on discussions held with Gambian authorities.

He added: “The medium-term fiscal framework will aim at continuing reducing debt vulnerabilities. Staff advised the authorities to address the costly subsidies on domestic fuel prices while strengthening the social registry to provide targeted support to the vulnerable population.”

Ivohasina Fizara Razafimahefa, IMF team leader to the country, noted that structural reforms cover domestic revenue mobilization, public financial management, governance and transparency, management of S, OEs, access to finance, and the business environment were discussed during the ten-day mission, adding that discussions were also held on climate-related risks and vulnerabilities, the authorities strategy, and the collaboration with partners in these areas.

 

He concluded that the mission had meetings with the Minister of Finance and Economics Affairs, Seedy Keita; Minister of Environment, Climate Change, and Natural Resources, Rohey John Manjang; Minister of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration, and Employment, Baboucarr Ousmaila Joof; Governor of the Central Bank of The Gambia, Buah Saidy, Commissioner General of the Gambia Revenue Authority, Yankuba Darboe, National Auditor General, Modou Ceesay, and senior government and Central Bank officials adding that the mission has also held discussions with representatives of the private sector, civil society, and development partners.

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