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BARROW SAYS ECONOMIC GROWTH SURPASSES PROJECTION

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By Tabora Bojang

President Adama Barrow has yesterday revealed that the Gambian economy surpassed the projected growth rate for Sub-Saharan Africa.

He said this was as a result of his government’s commitment to economic growth and prosperity, as well as reducing inflation and debt vulnerability, while maintaining prudent fiscal policy.

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Delivering his annual state of the national address, the president added:

“We have also rolled out the Integrated Financial Management Information Systems (IFMIS) to all local government authorities, created the State-Owned Enterprise Commission, and enacted the Anti-Corruption Act 2023 and these reforms seek to increase fiscal transparency and accountability.”

The president informed the National Assembly that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has approved a new US$100 million Extended Credit Facility Arrangement with The Gambia, a welcome development in supporting the country’s economic recovery and structural reforms.

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Barrow also disclosed that apart from US$25 million Threshold Programme to support the electricity and river transport development endeavours, The Gambia has been selected to develop a US$300 million development compact with the United States through its Millennium Challenge Corporation.

“Strategically, we recently launched a one-billion-dollar (US$ billion) Recovery-Focused National Development Plan (“YIRIWAA”), 2023-2027, which builds on the progress made during my first term in office. I am optimistic that the economy will continue to grow stronger,” he said.

Employment

President Adama Barrow revealed that there are 8427 vacant positions across government ministries with the Ministry of Interior, Defense and Health accounting for the highest. He said the main challenges in filling these vacant positions include the lengthy recruitment process in the security sector and shortage of qualified personnel in the health sector.

He said there are 83,155 employees in government including civil and public servants and in a bid to enhance delivery, the Ministry of Public Service is undertaking a comprehensive review of the functions of all ministries, departments, and agencies to identify institutional overlaps, competing mandates, and redundancies. 

National security

He said the security sector reforms embarked on since 2017 have led to a significant reduction in human rights violations and abuses as well as a 6.6 percent drop in crime rates, from 4894 in 2022 to crime 4567 in 2023.

He also reported a decline in traffic cases and announced there will be other non-punitive measures to be adopted by the government to address the drug problem.

The president said in line with the TRRC recommendations, plans are underway to close the Mile 2 prison and integrate it into the Banjul port area and prisoners will be transferred to Jeshwang or relocated to a new site in the Greater Banjul Area.

Education

President Barrow reported that there has been significant infrastructure growth in the education sector with 775 new classrooms and 1030 toilets.

Early childhood enrollment increased to 136,283 in 2023 compared to 130,952 in 2022. According to the president, enrollment in tertiary institutions including TVET reached 36,791 in 2022 while graduates from public institutions continue to impress.

A total of 2246 scholarships have been awarded since 2023 to Gambians to pursue education in home and abroad, adding that a new student loan scheme which will allow students to be given loan by the government will be rolled out soon.

TRRC recommendations

He said the government is working on implementing the TRRC recommendations with broader strategies to hold perpetrators to account and serve justice to victims.

Agriculture

He disclosed that the agriculture sector has in the past year registered increases in crop productivity with the increases in cereals by 21 percent, rice by 27 percent, Maize by 25 percent and millet by 14 percent and groundnut by 12 percent.

“In all last year agriculture contributed 24.4 percent to the GDP. This indicates a slight decrease from 25.7 percent in 2022.

He added that the government plans to bring 5000 hectares under rice cultivation for the 2024/ 2025 cropping season.

President Barrow further revealed that the government will purchase 180 tractors and 20 boats for year-round deployment.

We will enhance rice processing through integrated equipment, training processors and expanding irrigation facilities. This year my government will distribute rice, groundnuts, maize and bean seeds to farmers to help them boost production. There is already enough fertilizer in the country and it will be sold to farmers at a subsidized price.

Draft Constitution

The president also pledged that the government will ensure the 2020 Draft Constitution which was rejected in the National Assembly is ready for referendum in December 2024.

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