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IMF Mission Team Concludes Governance Diagnostic for The Gambia

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o  At the request of The Gambian authorities, an IMF mission conducted a diagnostic to assess the strength of the governance framework in The Gambia, identify vulnerabilities, including corruption, and offer reform options, guided by the IMF’s framework for Enhanced Engagement in Addressing Governance Vulnerabilities.

o The authorities made significant progress in bringing their legal framework closer to best practices, and challenges remain with limited capacity, manual processes, and the need for continued improvements of the legal framework.

o  Collaboration on the Governance Diagnostic will continue until the exercise concludes with the finalization of a report, setting out the findings in detail as well as recommendations.

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At the request of the government of The Gambia, an International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission led by Olivier Basdevant visited Banjul over the period January 10—24, 2023, to conduct a diagnostic of governance and corruption vulnerabilities in The Gambia. The diagnostic provides an opportunity to carry out a detailed assessment of the severity of corruption, assess governance weaknesses in key state functions, and propose options to address those vulnerabilities.

At the conclusion of the mission, Mr. Basdevant issued the following statement:

“The mission commended the authorities for the progress achieved so far, notably by bringing various legislations in line with best practices. At the end of the mission, the following preliminary observations were shared. These observations will be refined in the coming weeks as the governance diagnostic report for The Gambia is finalized.

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“Since 2017, The Gambia has been engaged in governance reforms, with new laws (2018 Central Bank Act, the access to information law 2021, public procurement act 2022, and bills on anti-corruption, anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism, public finances, state-owned enterprises, and banking); modernizing processes, in part through digitalization and automation (the GRA rolling out the Automated System for Customs Data, ASYCUDA World, and the ongoing efforts to develop an e-procurement platform), and bringing banking sector regulatory and supervisory framework closer to international standards. However, challenges remain, as outlined below, which will require continued efforts to improve governance and reduce corruption vulnerabilities.

“Public processes appear vulnerable to corruption and uneven decisions owing to limited digitalization and undefined conditions for applying discretionary powers. This issue was observed in various areas, including procurement, staff recruitment, and enforcement of contractual and property rights. Official records are often paper-based, and both access and reliability appear to be challenging. Further, official public websites and e-platforms where they exist are not always up to date.

“Administrative capacity is limited, thus hampering the delivery of timely and quality public services. Existing resources could be focused on the highest risks; the mission welcomes the authorities’ intention to continue strengthening their capacity.

“The mission commends the authorities for their anti-corruption efforts, notably with a bill broadly aligned with best practices, even though some provisions could be improved (independence of the anti-corruption commission, and effective enforcement). The mission encouraged the authorities’ efforts in bringing their anti-corruption framework in line with best practices, including their asset declaration and conflicts regime. The mission welcomes the authorities’ intention to address the deficiencies of AML/CFT frameworks identified in the 2021 Mutual Evaluation Report of the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA).

“The Central Bank of The Gambia is encouraged to continue its efforts to further strengthen oversight and internal governance arrangements, including for banking supervision.

“Looking forward, the IMF stands ready to support the authorities in their governance reform agenda, through continued capacity development, and encourage the authorities to develop a comprehensive national strategy for good governance, which could be informed by our forthcoming report and supported by The Gambia development partners.

“The IMF team would like to thank The Gambia authorities and other counterparts for their hospitality, excellent cooperation, as well as candid and constructive discussions.”

The mission met the Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Honourable Mr. Seedy Keita, Honourable Dawda Jallow, Minister of Justice, and Mr. Buah Saidy, Governor of the Central Bank of The Gambia, as well as other senior officials, and representatives of the private sector, Civil Society and international development partners.

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