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‘2015 not going to be easy,’ says Finance Minister

Dec 4, 2014, 10:18 AM | Article By: Njie Baldeh

The Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Kebba Satou Touray, has said the year “2015 will not be easy,” as the nation will encounter some challenges.

However, the Gambian government would do everything possible to achieve the aspirations of the Gambian people, the Finance minister told members of the National Assembly yesterday.

“We must encounter some challenges, as I said at the opening of the debate that 2015 is not going to be easy,” Hon. Kebba Touray said, adding that what happened in 2014 could be avoided in 2015.

The minister also said the 2015 budget should focus on agriculture, as it is the bread basket of The Gambia.

National Assembly members finally adopted with amendments the budget estimates for the period 1 January to 31 December 2015, after long hours of debate on the estimates of revenue and expenditure for the new fiscal year.

The 2015 budget represents the framework by which the government prioritizes in terms of programmes and projects formulated for implementation.

The programmes are based on the country’s national development blueprints Vision 2016, Vision 2020 and the Programme for Accelerated Growth and Employment (PAGE).

The budget, according to the Finance Minister, also takes into account emerging expenditure needs and the fiscal costs of the government’s policy response to the Ebola outbreak in the West Africa region, and the low harvest of some crops due to the delay in rains.

The 2015 budget effects the clear need to contain the challenging level of domestic debt stock and steer the budget towards long-term fiscal sustainability.

Minister Touray also told deputies that debt interests are projected to consume around 31 per cent of the government’s revenues in 2015 compared to 25 per cent in 2014.

These interest payments are D1,641 million and D2,440 million for 2014 and 2015 respectively.

According to Minister Touray, the draft estimates of the budget for 2015 had gone through the Committee of the whole House for amendment by National Assembly members.

The Finance Minister commended the National Assembly members for taking their time to go through the whole budget estimates, and making necessary amendments.

Hon. Touray noted the concerns raised by some members of the National Assembly as regards low salaries of some civil servants. The government would look into that, he said.