The Central Bank of The Gambia has announced plans to remove the head of the former president from the currency by February 2018.
President Yahya Jammeh printed his head on the country’s currency in 2015, six years after denouncing erstwhile president Dawda Jawara for doing the same.
Bank governor Bakary Jammeh said the country will reprint the currency called the “family notes” that were in circulation prior to the printing of the Jammeh notes, while gradually pulling the current currency out of circulation.
“The currencies that[Jammeh] has his heads on were printed in 2015 and if you check currencies in circulation from 2014 to 2015, there are those that do not have his head. So we can print those 2014 ones on which he does not have his head and get delivery in February,” Jammeh told journalists following their fourth quarterly Monetary Policy Meeting in 2017.
“So [Jammeh’s] face is gradually phasing out because notes that come in here do not go out again. And the new stock we will print will take us the whole of 2018 without his head. Then we can have time to redesign the entire currency with new security features… We are thinking of standards such as the current bank notes of countries like South Africa and Ghana.”
The governor said withdrawing the currency notes with Jammeh’s head immediately will not be a wise economic decision since it is expensive to print money.
“We also don’t want to see Yahya Jammeh’s head on the Gambian dalasi but it is very expensive to print currency. When you issue millions you have to charge millions to your profit and loss accounts,” Jammeh argued.
Gambia’s dalasi has been redesigned two times with different features after its first printing in 1971 with the face of the country’s first president, Jawara.
The Gambian economy has gone through troubling times recently and as at January 2017, it was struggling with a public debt at 120% of its GDP with higher poverty rate and youth unemployment at 38%.
But the governor said the economy has shown good signs of progress though higher public debt remains it biggest bane.
The country’s external reserves which were at one month worth of import cover at January are now at four months worth of import, Jammeh said.
He said the reduced domestic borrowing in the country has also significantly reduced the bank’s lending rates, giving business people an opportunity to secure loans at a fairly cheaper interest rate.
“On the domestic front, economic growth is projected to increase from 2.2 percent in 2016 to 3.0 percent in 2017 predicated on improved agricultural production, trade and tourism as well as implementation of sound macroeconomic policies and improved business confidence,” Jammeh said.
“In the medium term, growth is projected to reach 5 percent against the backdrop of implementation of strong reform measures.”
He said the current account deficit narrowed to US$46.2 million compared to $59.9 million a year ago.
“Imports and export (including re-exports) increased by 26.6 percent and 38.6 percent to $105.5 million and $281.8 million in 2017. The gross international reserves of the bank remained at four months of imports of goods and services,” Jammeh added.
“Treasury bills and Sukuk al Salam combined, accounting for 58.3 percent of the domestic debt, declined to D17.9 billion in October 2017 from D18.1 billion in the same period last year,” he revealed.