By Tabora Bojang
Economist and UDP supporter Nyang Njie has delivered a damning verdict of the monetary and fiscal measures of the Barrow government, saying it has failed to deliver any meaningful mechanisms to manage the economy and ensure price stability for the general wellbeing of the citizens.
Nr Njie was speaking to The Standard in reaction to comments by the governor of the Central Bank of The Gambia Buah Saidy who blamed the ongoing commodity price hikes for the structural problems at the Banjul ports.
He argued that since the port’s jetty cannot accommodate more than three ships, the ships waiting in the high seas to berth and offload their cargo, factor their waiting times in the cost of delivering goods to Gambian importers who in the course of recovering their costs pass on the cost to the consumers leading to price increases.
But in his reaction, Njie argued that the current price hikes are due to many variables which include poor government economic policies since price stability is one of the fundamental ways of managing economies.
“It is not about the jetty accommodating more ships. We need a port expansion and it is high time the government finds a strategic international partner that will bring in the resources and the expertise to manage our ports. This partner should be able to come up with the infrastructure and the equipment and we work together and everybody goes home as a winner.”
According to Njie, businessmen do not take pleasure in increasing prices and they are strained to do so to recover their costs and make a margin of profit to stay in business.
He submitted that external factors amid ongoing logistics problems for the global supply chain management have also influenced price hikes exacerbated by sharp increases in the cost of shipping a container to The Gambia.
“In the past 12 months the cost of a container has gone up by a minimum 35 to some 45 percent and that has nothing to do with the ports but it will be factored into the pricing,” he said.
Njie claimed that the “expansionary” fiscal policy instituted by the Barrow government since 2019 has slipped the country into economic woes.
“In three consecutive budget cycles the government has gone for a supplementary appropriation. It means we are spending more than we have been generating. We are spending this on recurrent expenditure and infrastructure projects. Our domestic debt has gone up and that led to a high debt GDP ratio, forcing us to make sure that before we spend on schools, agriculture and hospitals we pay our debts. For instance, if the government earns D100 and the debt to GDP ratio is D28 it means D28 of every D100 we earn goes towards paying debt,” he added.
Nyang, a fierce critic of the Barrow government, said this is drawing down the country’s opportunity to have an “organic development growth”.
“We need to have a fiscal policy that is controlled and determined by what the country can generate by way of its revenue. But we have been spending more than we can generate and this has caused a fiscal constraint.”