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Gambia hosts regional course on public sector debt statistics, others

Nov 27, 2012, 10:02 AM | Article By: Yusuf Ceesay

A week-long regional course on public sector debt statistics, guide for compilers and users hosted by The Gambia, yesterday opened at the Paradise Suites hotel in Kololi.

Jointly organised by the West African Institute for Financial and Economic Management, the Commonwealth Secretariat, IMF, and with some funding from the Africa Capacity Building Foundation, the course brought together officials mainly form anglophone countries in the region.

The course was designed to provide participants with a better understanding of the conceptual framework, including the compilation principles and practices of public sector debt statistics.

It was further aimed at providing participants with a comprehensive guidance for the measurement, quality assessment and presentation of public debt statistics, among others.

Speaking on the occasion, Oumie Samba Savage, second deputy governor, representing Amadou Colley, Governor of the Central Bank of The Gambia, applauded the relevance and timeliness of the course against the backdrop of the recent global economic developments, saying the course will go a long way in strengthening overall debt management capacity in the sub-region.

She told participants that the economic and financial crisis of the 1990s and that of 2009 have amply demonstrated that inadequate statistics on public sector debts looms large among the panoply of facilitators inhibiting a country’s ability to address vulnerabilities arising from solvency and liquidity problems.

“Experience from the recent debt crisis in the Euro area has again dramatized that these vulnerabilities can be costly and widespread in our globalized world of macro-economic interrelatedness,” the CBG deputy governor stated.

Compilation of public debt statistics, she added, fosters consistencies and comparability among public debt statistics of countries.

According to her, the Gambia government has moved consistently and decisively to up-scale general economic and financial data quality by strengthening data information flows both in the CBG, Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs (MOFEA) and the Gambia Bureau of Statistics (GBoS).

Speaking on behalf of Professor Akpan H. Ekpo, Director General of WAIFEM, Baba Yusuf Musa, Director of Debt Department at WAIFEM, stated that the recent evaluation of debt management practices in countries of the West Africa region largely through Debt Management Performance Assessment (DeMPA) missions has indicated divergences in the methodology adopted by different countries in the compilation of their debt statistics.

According to him, the priority component of the economic integration process in West Africa involves harmonization of concepts, definitions, and statistical measurement to facilitate policy coordination.

“WAIFEM has been working with its technical partners, notably the key stakeholders in the development and compilation of statistics at the global level, to implement a robust programme of strengthening competencies of officials and agencies responsible for compiling national economic and financial aggregates, including national accounts, balance of payments, government finance statistics, and debt data in the sub-region,” Yusuf added.

Also speaking at the opening ceremony was Phebby Famibiremwo Kufa of the IMF, who said data compilation is an important dimension for the IMF.

“Any analysis that has to be done on macro-economic issues needs good data, and one dimension of that is the public sector debt,” she stated.