By Omar Bah
Finance Minister Mambury Njie has disclosed that the government spent D5.8 billion between January and April 2020, almost D2 billion more over the same period last year, when government expenditure was D3.95 billion.
Speaking yesterday during the Oral Ministerial Statement on the Implementation and Monitoring of the Annual Budget at the second ordinary session of the National Assembly in the 2020 legislative year, Njie explained: “Out of the total government expenditure 24% was spent on other recurrent, 26% on personal emolument, 24% on subvention, 12% on debt service and 14% on capital development.”
He said other recurrent expenditures increased from D194 million in 2019 to D1.2 billion in 2020, registering a growth of 22%.
“Government did allocate an additional D500 million to the Ministry of Health under another recurrent which was obtained by reallocating budget votes from various budget entities and channelled towards combatting Covid-19 pandemic. The bulk of the reallocation came from travel expenses, training and other non-essential budget line items,” he said.
Minister Njie said as of April 2020, personal emolument increased from D1.02 billion in 2019 to D1.34 billion in 2020 recording a 31% year on year growth.
“Debt service decreased by 51% from D1.2 billion in April 2019 to D607 million in April 2020. Meanwhile, capital expenditure increased by 348% relative to last year from D153 million in 2019 to D680 million in 2020. This is primarily attributed to the first installment towards the Banjul rehabilitation project,” he stated.
He said the ministries of Basic and Secondary Education (D916 million), Works (D478 million)and Health (D372 million) were the top three spending ministries during the period under review.
“In terms of absorptive capacity, the Ministry of Works and Infrastructure has absorbed 73% of its approved budget as at end of April 2020 due to the payment made for the Banjul Rehabilitation Project while the Ministry of Finance absorbed 36% of its budget mainly due to increased subvention given to its satellite agencies,” Minister Njie added.
He said the top-spending budget line items were roads and bridges (D428 million), operating cost (D172 million), rent and rates (D124 million), food and food services (D97 million), travel expenses (D83 million), and school improvement grants (D82 million).
“D436 million was approved for the roads and bridges and as of April 2020, D428 million was absorbed representing a 98% absorption rate. In addition to payments being made towards the Banjul Rehabilitation Project, payments were also made towards the Laminkoto-Passimas project,” he said.
He said the food and food services budget line increased from D50 million from May 2019 to D115 million in May 2020, due to the expansion of the school feeding programme under MoBSE and feedings provided for the security sector.
“Travel expenses also registered a major expenditure item despite the ban on travel. One of the reasons why travel expenses recorded an increase when compared to the same period last year is due to the fact that the security sector, Ministry for the Interior and Defence night trekking allowances is currently being charged under travel expenses unlike previous years where it was classified as allowances,” he said.
Minister Njie also disclosed his plans to reprioritise the 2020 budget and place additional emphasis on combatting Covid-19 by availing more resources to critical sectors such as health.
“We will nonetheless take all necessary steps to ascertain budget execution is conducted in a prudent and disciplined manner and avoid major fiscal slippages from now until end of 2020,” he added.
He also revealed that the country’s revenue is going down.