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Gambia at an economic turning point
April 23, 2017, 5:06 pm

Officials at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) say that the Gambia is at an economic turning point following the change of leadership and transition to a democratically-elected government earlier this year.

A delegation from the IMF that visited Gambia and spent over two weeks meeting with stakeholders there, said that despite the challenges that lie ahead, concerted policy efforts plus the support from the international community will be key to ensuring the success of the Gambian economy.

During their visit, the IMF mission met with President Adama Barrow, Minister of Finance Amadou Sanneh, Central Bank Governor Amadou Colley, other government officials, development partners, and representatives of the private sector and civil society.

After years of economic mismanagement and massive embezzlement of funds during the 22-year rule of former president Yahya Jammeh, the new government is now being confronted by significant economic challenges.

According to the IMF, the Gambia’s economic growth in 2016 is now estimated to have reached only 2.2 percent, down from 4.3 percent in 2015, due to limited availability of foreign exchange, weak agricultural output and the effect of the political impasse on tourism during high season.

The global lender added that headline annual inflation stood at 8.8 percent in February 2017, driven by higher food prices and the recent depreciation of the dalasi – the local currency – which increases the domestic price of imported goods.

The IMF noted in a statement that the key priority for the new government is to bring public spending in line with available resources, thereby drastically reducing domestic borrowing and interest cost. “Efforts need to include reforms of public enterprises, including the National Water and Electricity Company (NAWEC) and the National Telecom and Mobile Operators (GAMTEL/GAMCEL) to place them on a sound financial footing and limit their drain on the state budget,’‘ the statement added.

The Adama Barrow regime disclosed in late January that exiled leader Yahya Jammeh virtually emptied the treasury before leaving the country. The country has however enjoyed the support of international donors and partners who have pledged funds and other assistance to help revive the economy.

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