Panafrican News Agency

Barrow says economic growth in Gambia impressive

Banjul, Gambia (PANA) - Gambian leader Adama Barrow said here Thursday economic growth in The Gambia had been impressive since 2017, with real GDP averaging 6 per cent up to 2019.

“In 2020, growth was projected at 6.5%, but the pandemic outbreak compelled a revised GDP estimate of minus 1.5%,” he said here in his state of the nation address for the 2021 legislative year.

He added: “Despite the economic challenges, domestic resource mobilization in 2020 amounted to an incredible performance of 13.4 billion dalasis (US$261,821,018.80). Of  this, 11.8 billion dalasis ($230,558,807.60) was tax revenue and D1.8 billion dalasis ($35,169,986.60) non-tax revenue.

"Although the pandemic has shown that the economy is vulnerable to shocks, the Government remains committed to initiating sound economic policy management,” Barrow stated.

He further said, along these lines, cabinet approved the Medium Term Economic Fiscal Framework, 2021-2025 for fiscal policy interventions.

According to him, through support from UNDP, he commissioned an evaluation of Vision 2020 to make recommendations for a long-term Development Plan, saying the assessment would guide future development strategies.

“We have C most of our external creditors for debt deferral for at least five years.  Most of them have granted us principal repayment deferral, which is estimated to yield 4.8 billion dalasis from 2020 to 2024. The savings made will be invested in the economy to create growth.

"The Government also engaged the G20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) and secured relief from ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development, Saudi Fund for Development, Kuwaiti Fund for Arab Economic Development, and the People's Republic of China. The DSSI provided relief of 287.24 million dalasis ($5,612,348.47) in debt service payments for the 2020 fiscal year,” he told Gambians.

President Barrow added that the Medium-Term Debt Strategy, 2020-2024, had been designed for an appropriate medium-term financing path anchored on cost and risk management.

He stated that generally, revenue collection fell due to the COVID-19 outbreak, while grants increased significantly.

He revealed that these came mainly in the form of budget support from Development Partners, especially the European Union, to ease the economic burden of the pandemic on the government.

He recalled that the National Assembly approved a Supplementary Appropriation Bill (SAP) of 2.85 Billion dalasis ($55,685,813.70), revealing that the Ministry spent most of the funds to contain the coronavirus.

“This included stimulus packages for vulnerable Gambians, procurement of personal protective equipment (PPEs), allowances to health frontline workers, and support to deserving Public Enterprises and sectors.

"The Government provided relief support of food items amounting to D850 million dalasis ($55,685,813.70) to the most vulnerable.

"An additional D224 million dalasis ($4,376,70,9.57) was approved thereafter as part of the SAP. Stimulus packages for students abroad, businesses, and the tourism sector were factored in the SAP and paid out accordingly,” he said.

-0-PANA  MSS/RA  9Sept2021