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By Landing Ceesay
President Adama Barrow has today blamed the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia-Ukraine war for The Gambia’s ‘slow’ economic growth, recently.
“Despite the significant impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Gambian economy, growth rebounded to 4.5 percent in 2021. Although the growth remained below the pre-pandemic levels, it was still significant. However, the slowdown of business activities in 2020 and the third wave of the virus in July 2021 affected the economy’s recovery.
“In 2022, the economy could have been well into recovery, with expectations of improved economic performance, increased grant inflows, and private remittances. Unfortunately, it took a different trend, as economies across the globe grapple with the impact of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war. Consequently, in June, the Government projected a more modest growth of 3.6 percent for 2022,” the Gambia President said.
President Barrow said revenue collection for the first two months of this year has declined by 14 percent, against the same period in 2021.
He said that prompted by this development, his government resolved to formulate robust policies that would set up buffers against shocks and enhance domestic revenue mobilisation.
The Gambian President said despite the challenges, the fourth review of the Extended Credit Facility (ECF) with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was successfully completed in December 2021.
Barrow told the NAMs that his government remains committed to sound economic policy management, as detailed in the Medium Term Economic Fiscal Framework (2022-2026); the framework of which is to improve macro-fiscal stability.
“With the support of the United Nations Development Programme, the initial stages of the formulation of a Recovery-Focused National Development Plan (RF-NDP: 2023-2027) and a Long-Term Development Vision (LTDV: 2050) have started. The RF-NDP will succeed the National Development Plan (2018-2021), and the LTDV will succeed Vision 2020 for the country’s long-term development targets and transformation,” he said.
The head of state said the Gambia was among 44 countries that presented their Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals during the High-Level Political Forum held in New York in July 2022.
He said the reviews facilitated the sharing of experiences and commendation of The Gambia, by partners for the inclusive and participatory nature of its VNR and the policies and strategies being implemented to accelerate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.
Barrow further told the NAMs that the Gambia’s total debt service payment in 2021 was GMD5.01 billion, of which, GMD 1.9 billion was external debt service payment and GMD 3.1 billion was domestic debt service payment.
The Gambian leader said the debt service payment increased by 11.1 percent from GMD 4.5 billion in 2020, to GMD 5 billion in 2021; and added that there was no debt service suspension initiative receipt, compared to the preceding year.
“As (an) update on the Public Finance Management (PFM), the PFM Act is under revision to address the weaknesses. Once finalised, the Public Finance Regulations and Instructions will be revised. Our Public Financial Management reforms include a Treasury Single Account to ensure better treasury management functions. Also initiated is a Public Financial Management Strategy (2021-2025) to address weaknesses in the financial management of Local Government Authorities, and ensure effective use of the IFMIS,” Barrow said.
Barrow said Cabinet has approved the Public Private Partnership (PPP) Bill for tabling before parliament, saying ‘it speaks to the Revised National PPP Policy and operational guidelines’.The President made the remarks in his State of the Nation Address 2022 today at the National Assembly in Banjul.
Section 77 (1) of the 1997 Constitution requires the President to attend a sitting of the National Assembly and address a session on the condition of the State, the policies of the Government, and the administration of the State, at least once in a year.
Today’s event marked the 6th State of Nation Address (SoNA) by President Adama Barrow, since his ascension to power in 2017, after defeating then President Yahya A.J.J Jammeh in the 1st December 2016 presidential election.