By Tabora Bojang
The governor of Central Bank of The Gambia has said price indexes for all items in the food basket have significantly increased in July, with inflation to persist throughout this year.
Buah Saidy added that the uncertainty surrounding the global economy has increased further and become more complicated and pushing low-income countries especially in the Sub-Saharan Africa into risks of food insecurity, rapidly diminishing fiscal space and rising debt vulnerabilities.
He was speaking at CBG’s Monetary Policy Committee Meeting press conference yesterday.
“Inflationary pressures remain elevated, and inflation expectations have risen, fuelled by surging energy and food prices. Headline inflation reached 12.3 percent in July up from 11.7 percent in June 2022 and 8.2 percent in 2021. Both consumer food and non-food inflation accelerated. Price index of all items in the food basket increased in July notably, cereals, vegetables and fish. Main drivers within the non-food category were alcoholic beverages, health care, books and stationery, and housing and electricity and other fuels,” Governor Saidy said.
He further disclosed that the near-term forecast indicates that inflation will remain elevated this year, predicated on rising global inflation. Other risk factors, he said, include the pass-through effects of currency depreciation, adjustments in administered prices for transport fares and pump prices, structural challenges at the Banjul Ports and the increase in public sector [civil servants] salaries. However according to the governor, in the medium-term price pressures are expected to ease, and inflation will return to its long-run trend next year in response to the tight monetary policy stance of the CBG and the easing of global supply conditions.
Gov’t’s fiscal operations
According to the Governor Saidy, the government’s fiscal operations continue to be expansionary as growth in the expenditure continues to outpace revenue generation as international trade tax receipts and non-tax revenue continue to decline.
“Disbursement of some grants from development partners did not materialise. As a result, the overall budget deficit including grants expanded to 2.8 percent of GDP in the first half of 2022, relative to 2.5 percent of GDP in 2021,” Saidy, who is a former permanent secretary at the finance ministry, reported.
On the country’s domestic debt Saidy said that currently stands at D38.4 billion compared to D37.2 billion at the same time last year.
However, the domestic debt to GDP ratio declined from 35.4 percent in 2021 to 33.3 percent at the end of July 202, he said adding that short term debt still accounts for more than half of domestic debt and the refinancing and interest rate risks remain elevated.
The CBG boss further explained that the country’s commercial banking sector remains stable and robust with all banks above the regulatory requirement of 10 percent with a 400 percent shock on asset quality.
The reserve money was above the target for the June quarter by D2.1 billion while the liquidity ratio of 73.2 percent moved above the prudential requirement of 30 percent with improvements in their asset liquidity which saw a decline in their total non-performing loans to 4.2 percent.
The committee takes the following decisions; increase the monetary policy rate by 1 percentage point to 12 percent, maintain the required reserve of commercial banks at 13 percent and the interest rate on standing deposit facility at 3 percent and the standing lending facility at 13 percent.