Gambia relies heavily on imports for consumption of basic commodities – President Barrow

Gambia relies heavily on imports for consumption of basic commodities – President Barrow
Gambia relies heavily on imports for consumption of basic commodities – President Barrow

Africa-Press – Gambia. President Adama Barrow has disclosed that The Gambia relies heavily on imports for the consumption of basic commodities, including wheat and maize from Ukraine.

He made the statement at the 2023 State of the Nation Address at the National Assembly in Banjul on Thursday, while saying this means that the disruption in supply chains, which led to shortages in supply, translated into strong inflationary pressures on the economy.

“As of end-December 2022, inflation stood at 13.7 percent, from an initial projection of 5 percent. Generally, global inflation has significantly reduced the real incomes of people abroad. As a result, the Gambian economy faces reduced private remittance receipts and lower tourist arrivals, despite the strong recovery footings reported in 2022. These will continually worsen the negative impact on the growth experienced from 2020 onwards.

Revenue performance during the year highlights the negative effect of the crisis. Total Domestic revenue collection in 2022 declined by ten (10) percent against the same period in 2021,” the Gambian leader further disclosed.

President Barrow highlighted that revenue performance from 2022 and 2023, between January and April, shows that domestic taxes have increased by 5% during the period, whilst customs and excise taxes increased by 20% over the same period.

“The increase in global oil prices put pressure on Government and forced us to subsidize fuel to lower the high pump prices. This hurt domestic revenue mobilization and the 2022 national budget,” he said.

He noted that with less attention to COVID-19, infrastructure development activities resumed and will remain a priority.

According to him, in addition to the rural road projects implemented by the Ministry of Transport, Works, and Infrastructure, the road expansion and OIC-related projects are underway, as the country prepares to host the OIC summit by December, this year.

The Gambian leader underlined that capital expenditure will, therefore, persist to contribute greatly to total expenditure.

“Apart from the Government’s commitment to the Medium Term Economic Fiscal Framework (2023-2026) to improve macro-fiscal stability, the new Green Recovery-Focused National Development Plan (RF-NDP) has Cabinet approval, and preparations are underway to launch it.

The plan outlines key national priorities across the sectors and will guide development interventions in the medium term. It also mainstreams the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), African Union (AU) Agenda 2063, and the ECOWAS Vision 2030. The government will strengthen domestic resource mobilization to finance the RF-NDP,” President Barrow pointed out.

He went on “An International Monetary Fund (IMF) team visited The Gambia to conduct a diagnostic exercise of the country’s governance and corruption vulnerabilities. The mission commended my administration for the progress achieved so far, especially for bringing various legislations in line with best practices, and they shared useful observations with us.”

He recalled that since 2017, The Gambia has engaged in governance reforms across the country’s institutions these include the enactment of new laws, such as the 2018 Central Bank Act, the Access to Information Law 2021, and the Public Procurement Act 2022.

Also, he revealed that along these lines, Bills developed include those on anti-corruption, anti-money laundering, and countering the financing of terrorism, as well as those on public finances, state-owned enterprises, and banking, “all these are meant to contribute to the achievement of our national goals and targets.”

President Barrow stated that also related to economic growth and management are actions taken to modernize revenue mobilization; for example, the digitalization and automation initiatives introduced during the year under review are significant achievements worth reporting.

Rolling out the GRA Automated System for Customs Data, ASYCUDA World, and the ongoing efforts to develop an e-procurement platform, he said, will jointly upscale revenue generation for development purposes.

Furthermore, “my government has brought the banking sector regulatory and supervisory framework closer to international standards. With these, we look to more significant economic development prospects, despite the current global crises as setbacks to contend with,” he enunciated.

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