By Tabora Bojang
The stock of the country’s domestic debt has increased to D31.2 billion as at end of December 2018 from D29.7 billion in the corresponding period a year ago.
The Monetary Policy Committee of the Central Bank of The Gambia met yesterday in Banjul to assess the domestic and international economic and financial developments as well as to decide on the policy rate.
According to Governor Bakary Jammeh, the increased domestic debt is as a result of a decrease in grant flows principally from the country’s development partners during the year review.
He added that this might be slightly factored by the fact that donors have their procedures and some take time especially pledges which might not necessarily be included in the budget.
The governor disclosed that there are lot of reforms and negotiations at the Ministry of Finance to secure funds through loan and grant supports adding that 25 million euros from EU has already been secured as of January 2019.
He remained optimistic that the future of the country in terms of economic transformations “is very bright as economic growth is coming, inflation is low, reserves available, markets are stable and of course the banks are making lot of good money.”
He said the stock of treasury and Sukuk-al-Salaam bills increased to D17 million as compared to last year with D15.5 billion respectively.
Total revenue and grants stood at D10.7 billion in 2018 lower than D13.3 billion in 2017. He said domestic tax including tax and non-tax revenues rose by D8.8 billion. Preliminary government fiscal operations for 2018 showed a budget deficit of D3.9 in last year compared to D3.7 billion in 2017.
Overall, he said the budget balance improved to a deficit of D5.8 billion while total expenditure and net lending declined to D14.6 billion in 2018 compared D17.6 billion in 2017.
Domestic economic outlook
At the domestic level, he said economic activities continue to gather strength evidenced by increased activity in construction, tourism, distributive trade and financial intermediation. He said growth is also expected to remain solid in the year on the back of continued implementation of sound macroeconomic policies and reforms.
New bank notes
Governor Jammeh also revealed that the printings of a new currency which will gradually put an end to the circulation of the dalasi bearing former president Jammeh’s head are at an advanced stage at the factory level.
He said the design and features for the new notes have been completed and the Bank would soon embark on a public awareness campaign next month to inform the public on the new bank notes. The new notes according to him would be one of the best currencies for the country, as it will have strong security features and have features to enable the disable in identification of the notes.
According to the governor, the domestic foreign exchange market reflects strong performance as purchases and sales of foreign currency stood at US$2 billion dollars. The exchange rate of the dalasi remains stable and appreciated against pounds by 1.4, euro by 2.9 and CFA by 3.9% respectively. Meanwhile the dalasi also depreciated against dollars by 4.2%
Direction of the economy
Governor Jammeh said the bank forecasts an improved economic growth to range between 5 to 6 % in 2019. He stated that overall direction of the economy “is very positive” as all the sectors expect strong economic activities going forward.
Jammeh noted that the structure of the Gambian economy has shifted with the rebased GDP as the services sector, tourism, financial intermediation and insurance, construction and communications are the pillars for the economic growth.