Poor dalasi exchange rate triggers price increase in Gambia

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Minister Trade, B. Joof speaking to the press at the media briefing in Banjul on Monday.

By Alieu Ceesay

The depreciation of the Gambian Dalasis against major currencies, including the US Dollar, is negatively impacting the lives of many Gambians, particularly those with limited financial resources.

Babucarr Joof, The Gambia’s Minister for Trade, Industry, Regional Integration, and Employment, expressed worries about the rising prices during a media briefing on Monday.

He stated, “The exchange rate of our Dalasis against major global currencies, the US Dollar being the most popular currency for trade globally, has not been generous to our Gambian Dalasis recently. During the first quarter of 2024, the dalasi depreciated against all the major trading currencies, on average 4.3% for US Dollars, Euros, and British Pound Sterling. In the same quarter, it has also slightly depreciated against the CFA (5000) by 1.2%.”

Joof outlined these factors as contributors to the current price surge and discussed measures taken by the government to alleviate the impact on essential food commodity prices during Ramadan and beyond.

Gambia heavily relies on imports, and the fluctuation in foreign currencies poses economic challenges for the country. The ongoing price hikes in The Gambia, particularly affecting low-income earners, have garnered attention.

Minister Joof detailed government efforts to counter external shocks on commodity stocks and prices.

Among them is the successful negotiation with the Indian government to secure a waiver for rice importation in 2023, resulting in 63,650MT of rice imported under the Indian Waiver, Approval of a second quota allocation of 50,000 MT in 2023, making a total of 150,000 MT for The Gambia. Negotiations are underway for these new allocations to have the first consignment in Banjul during the first week of Ramadan.

However, Minister Joof emphasized the commitment to ensuring the availability and accessibility of essential food commodities. He called for a shift towards producing what the country consumes and encouraged the diaspora to invest in local rice production.

“The way forward is to produce what we eat in this country. Those of you in diaspora, bring your pounds and euros to invest in rice production.”

The government’s proactive measures, as outlined by Minister Joof, reflect an ongoing effort to address the economic challenges posed by the exchange rate fluctuations and global price hikes in The Gambia.

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