Panafrican News Agency

Gambia's domestic debt up by 4.3% - Central bank governor

Banjul, Gambia (PANA) - Gambia's domestic debt went up by 4.3 per cent in 2020 to 34.6 billion dalasis, Bauh Saidy, governor of the Central Bank of The Gambia, said on Friday.

"The total outstanding domestic debt stock as at end-December 2020 grew by 4.3 percent to D34.6 billion (32.4 percent of GDP) from D33.1 (36.2 percent of GDP) in the corresponding period in 2019," he told commercial bank managers at the first 2021 Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting. (US$1.00=52 dalasis)

Saidy said that the banking sector remains fundamentally sound with high levels of capital and liquidity, pointing out that on annualised basis total assets of the banking industry rose by 3.5 percent, which is equal to 58.8 billion dalasis in December, 2020.

"All the banks are adequately capitalised with liquidity ratio of the industry pegged at 94.4 percent in December, 2020, 2.8 percent higher than the 2019 ratio and well above the 30 percent statutory requirement. Non-performing loans ratio increased to 6.8 percent in December 2020, from 4.6 percent a year ago."

Speaking on the foreign exchange market, the Central Bank chief said exchange rates came under pressure due to supply constraints associated with Covid-19 pandemic and slowdown of remittances in the last quarter of 2020.

He observed that the pressure on the exchange rate has resulted in the weakening of the local currency against the three top international currencies -- Euro, pound sterling and US dollar --depreciating against them year-on-year by 7.3 percent, 1.5 percent and 1.1 percent respectively.

Saidy said that the Monetary Policy Committee has projected a 6.0 percent growth for the Gambian economy in 2021, noting that this is anchored on the resumption of normal economic activities with the rollout of a vaccine on the horizon.

He said the MPC has decided to maintain the policy rate at 10 percent; the required reserves at 13 percent; interest rate on the standing deposit facility at 2.5 percent and standing lending facility at 11.0 percent.

-0- PANA MSS/MA 5March2021