He was briefed by various stakeholder institutions on the state of the economy, from the policymakers and technicians supported by the Department of Delivery, Ministry of Public Service, and the Technical Assistance team from the Tony Blair Institute.
Referencing the Global Economic outlook, the Central Bank of The Gambia (CBG) presented economic developments reporting a projected drop in global inflation from 8.7% in 2022 to 6.8% in 2023. However, global food prices increased.
On the home front, while the CBG forecast a growth rate of 4.4% by the end of the year, inflation stood at 18.4% in July.
Meanwhile, as of end-July 2023, the gross international reserves are adequate to support about four months of imports of goods and services.
The Economic Council was also informed that road infrastructure, education, purchase of fertiliser, and crop financing increased government expenditure, and there is a need to reprioritise other areas of its expenditures against growth, exchange rate, interest, and inflation.
On Foreign exchange, the CBG informed the Economic Council that the dalasi is stable against the US$, despite the double-digit inflation and remittances inflow increased in June compared to the same period in 2022. The CBG continues to monitor and implement policies to improve the coordination of FOREX Bureau operations.
The Gambia Revenue Authority presented a positive performance in July and reported that it surpassed its target by 25%, with customs and domestic tax collection recording significant improvements. The improvement in tax collections is associated with automating its collection system, minimising cash contact and the associated risks.
The Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs (MOFEA) updated on budget support, debt servicing, and performance contracts for SOEs and reported that Cabinet finalised and adopted the Recovery Focused- National Development Plan in June 2023. They are working on a financial strategy for its implementation. It also has ongoing initiatives on key budgetary reforms aimed at linking expenditure to national development priorities and piloting of Gender Responsive Budgeting (GRB) in the 2024-2026 budget.
The Ministry of Finance is also awaiting the finalisation of the 2022 audit to follow up on the next steps of its engagements.
The Accountant General reported on its implementation of CFA collection at bridges from August 2023, prepared guidelines for online air ticket procurement, and communicated to MDAs for performance.
As of July, collections at Senegambia Bridge were D238m, Samba Juma Basse Bridge was D7.8m, and Fatoto Bridge collected D589,000.
GIEPA reported that the Investment Incentives Awards Committee – IIAC had recommended eight (8) Special Investment Certificates – SICs for approval, with an estimated investment of USD38m and employment for 954 Gambians. The Agency also facilitates engagements with new companies interested in investing in the country.
GPPA reported on its key activities, including developing the Public Procurement Regulations 2023, professionalising the Gambian procurement job, and establishing Electronic Government Procurement.
The Ministry of Trade reported that an SIC study has been completed and validated. It informed the meeting on stocks that two months of inventory is available for most of the food items.
On regional integration, Wellingara- Bureng Lumo would be upgraded with fencing, security and lighting and updated that the labour survey 2022-2023 has been completed and will be validated.
Meanwhile, the construction of a food testing lab is 80% complete, and they will go through the accreditation process.
In the area of production, the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) reported that dry-season rice production is mainly at the harvesting stage. A combined total of 312.4 metric tonnes of certified seeds was also secured from various projects and the National Seed Secretariat for free distribution to farmers this rainy season. The National Food Security Processing and Marketing Corporation (formerly GGC), in collaboration with over 80 Cooperative Primary Marketing Societies (CPMSs) and 20 Agricultural Mixed Farming Centers across the country, sold the available fertiliser at D1,150 per bag, constituting 50% subsidy.
The Ministry of Agriculture also reported that 80 hectares of farmland were ploughed for community members in CRR and URR. It recommends the purchase of 200 additional tractors over the next three (3) years. This number would complement the existing tractors’ workload and improve the existing fleet’s overall uptime, performance, and operational reliability.
The Ministry of Tourism and Culture (MoTC) reported a 24% increase in tourist arrivals in the second quarter of 2023, with 49,132 tourists visiting the Gambia compared to 22,040 in the same period of 2022.
The Gambia country brand was successfully registered on June 30, 2023, and the Tourism Ministry is working with the Registrar General’s Department of the Ministry of Justice to have the brand registered internationally.
To facilitate development in the Tourism Development Area (TDA), the MoTC has completed the planning and demarcation of 21 plots now available for investment.
The plots are in Sanyang, Gunjur, Kartong, Tujereng-Batokunku, and Tanji. The MoTC has also completed the design and bill of quantities for constructing a duplex strip road in the Tourism Development Area.
The National Roads Authority (NRA) has been assigned to execute the work, and construction has already begun.
Source: State House, Banjul, 17 August 2023