By: Kebba AF Touray
The ministry of finance and economic affairs has revealed that the Gambia Government would incur the sum of D524 million as cost on fertilizer subsidy for this year’s farming season.
The ministry made this disclosure recently in a presser, indicating that the Gambian economy in 2020 marginally contracted by 0.2 percent, but it is better than the economy of sub-Saharan countries which recorded an average contraction of 3 percent.
In an effort to target one of the most vulnerable communities, the ministry disclosed that the government decided to maintain the price of fertilizer at D700 per 50kg for a second year in a row despite rising fertilizer prices in the international market.
“This subsided price translates to a cost to government of D524M for this farming season compared to a subsidy of D201M in 2020. In addition, the groundnut subsidy for 2020/2021 cropping season amounts to D56.6 million,” the ministry said.
The ministry also disclosed that the country experienced a 62 percent drop in tourism arrivals, but this was offset by growth in agriculture and a boost in the construction sector, financed mainly by remittances
“The government stimulus package of D2.8 billion also helped to stimulate economic activities and eased the impact on growth. The economy is expected to grow by 4.9 percent in 2021 with some recovery in the tourism sector anticipated in the fourth quarter of this year,” the ministry said.
During the peak of the pandemic, the Ministry said their development partners provided assistance in the form of budget support equivalent to 4.7 percent of GDP, or D4.6 billion. It added that a lot of supportive policies were taken to dampen the impact of the pandemic, including the 20 percent reduction of the CIF reference value of essential commodities and non-application of penalties for late filing of tax returns.
“Petroleum retail prices were highly subsidized in the first half of the year with a cumulative cost amounting to D135.1 million. Government will continue to provide adequate response to the ongoing health pandemic,” the ministry stated.
The Government is also planning for a nationwide deployment of additional 70 lifesaving ambulances costing approximately D134 million, according to the ministry. This will be funded from government own resources as part of their response to the COVID pandemic.
The ministry further said the government will soon disburse in July or early August the sum of D32 million to support the nationwide expanded immunization program.
“However, we stand ready to support temporary interventions to alleviate the plight of the affected individuals during these difficult times,” the ministry stated.