The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Tuesday reached agreement with the Gambia on staff level which will be supported under the Extended Credit Facility. The IMF team, which visited Banjul last week, was led by deputy Division Chief Jaroslaw Wieczorek. 

Mr. Wieczorek said The Gambia had built a positive track record of performance and advanced the structural reform agenda under the 2019 Staff Monitored Programme (SMP). 

He added that the restructuring of The Gambia’s external debt is being finalised following commitments provided by participating creditors. 

The Gambia, he said, is requesting a three-year programme to be supported by a financial arrangement under the Extended Credit Facility (ECF).

Mr. Wieczorek said the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth in 2019 is estimated to have reached 6% despite the temporary drop in Tourist arrival in November 2019 following the bankruptcy of Thomas Cook and a much lower Agricultural output due to the late rainfall.

“This strong performance reflected The Gambia’s gaining competitiveness as a Tourist destination, strong private sector consumption and investment supported by foreign exchange inflows, availability of credit, and a much-improved reliability of electricity and water supply,” he said.

Mr. Wieczorek said over the medium term, sound macroeconomic policies will underpin the prospects for sustaining growth, the strengthening of foreign exchange buffers, and inflation moderating from an average of 7.1% in 2019 to the Central Bank of The Gambia’s target of 5%.

He said The Gambia’s performance under the 2019 SMP has been strong. Quantitative targets including on domestic borrowing by the government and on poverty-reducing spending were met”. 

The deputy Division Chief said the implementation of the 2019 budget was accompanied by strong tax revenue effort, improved expenditure control and debt management.

“Measures were taken to enable the clearing of domestic payment arrears with suppliers and among state-owned enterprises,” he said.

Mr. Wieczorek said the Gambia is making concerted efforts to bridge government gaps, tackle the vulnerability to corruption and take concrete actions to prosecute human traffickers.

He said that the draft Anti-Corruption Bill, recently submitted to the National Assembly, is expected to increase efficiency in tackling corruption.

“The Gambia has made much needed progress on the restructuring of its external debt, that debt service deferrals agreed with most of participating creditors, have markedly improved The Gambia’s debt outlook and enabled it to exit from debt distress,” he said.

He said great care is needed to avoid contracting any new non-concessional debt, given the high level of the public debt and the large existing pipeline of the already contracted project loans.

“The IMF will submit, for the consideration of its Executive Board, a report on the assessment of the 2019 SMP and supporting The Gambian authorities’ request for a programme supported under an ECF arrangement,” he noted.

Mambury Njie, Minister for Finance and Economic Affairs said the contribution of Agriculture and Tourism to the GDP of this country is significant.

He said they are ready to work with external partners especially IMF to achieve their objectives.

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