A report of the abysmal economic situation of the Gambia submitted on Thursday, 22 September 2016 to the ECOWAS Parliament by Gambian parliamentarians painted a very gloomy picture about the current economic situation the country. According to reports from the commission, Gambia failed to meet almost the whole lot of the convergence criteria set for the commission of the regional body.
Abysmal Deficit, A very high inflation
Indeed, on the implementation of the macroeconomic program, the Gambian budget deficit is still abysmally high and way outside the threshold fixed by the commission. In December, 2015, the budget deficit represented 9.5 % of the GDP compared to the 8.5 % registered in the same period of the previous year. The regional criteria of 3 % of the required GDP was not achieved because of the absence of donor support to bridge the deficit gap as per the Information submitted by the Gambian members of Parliament in their country report, which also reported a very high inflation rate during the period. The reported indicated, “In December, 2015, the average rate of inflation was 6.9 % after that of the 5.7 % for the previous year’s rate; the required rate was also not achieved mainly because of the pressures caused by the price increase of foodstuffs”.
A Very Worrying High Debt
Concerning debts, at the end of December, 2015, the ratio of the debt on the GDP increased from 103.8 % in 2014 to 107 % in 2015 in the country, which exceedingly surpassed the 70 % threshold fixed by the community. And the activities financed on stockholders’ equity represented 1.78 %, far below envisaged 20 %. So, in Gambia, the financing of the budget deficit by the central bank was 52 percent in 2015. This is also below the target of 10% set among the convergence criteria. The report also highlighted revenue shortfalls during the period.
Arrears of contribution
It is reported that the country is having an overdue contribution of 3.2 million units of account, at exchange rate of I UA to $1, the Gambia is owing the ECOWAS body a contribution arrears of almost USD 2.2 million (over D105 million) due by 2017.
However, Gambia spends only 17.9 % of its fiscal receipts on the payment of salaries when the regional convergence criteria is determine at 35 % . So public servants in the country are seriously underpaid. On the liberalization of the exchange rates, the Gambian government says they are committed to the implementation of the recommended program of the regional body.
With presidential elections barely two months away, it seems Yaya Jammeh is staring into an economic abyss albeit with devastating political consequences. He is in dire need of some of sort of rescue from Allah’s bank before the country run out of cash to pay the unusually high domestic debts and other international financial obligations such as the ECOWAS contribution arrears and many others that are well overdue. If the disclosure contained in the audited government accounts tabled before the lawmakers on this past Tuesday are anything to go by, it seems something is very very wrong with the way our country is being run by president Jammeh. Isn’t it time to give others a chance to rule the country with new talents and vision?
With bad economic outlook, a damning condemnation of Gambia human rights situation by international organizations, an abnormally high per capita migration especially affecting the country’s youthful population plus a weak currency driving up inflation to unacceptable levels causing unbearable economic hardships to the people; our country is plunging into the abyss of economic ruin caused by a leader who only has high school education.
Why should we continue to vote for a president who cares only for his family and the military men who surround him for his personal security? Time is against the autocrat. A leader who failed to deliver must be voted out.
Special Correspondent in Abuja.
Translated from French to English by a Freedom Newspaper Contributor