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IMF, GCCI convene outreach programme

Jan 24, 2011, 11:27 AM | Article By: Sainey M.K. Marenah

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) last Friday convened a daylong interactive session, mainly centred on world economic issues.

The session, dubbed IMF-GCCI Outreach Program, brought together leaders in both private and public sector with a view to dialogue and share ideas on the recently released IMF regional economic outlook report for 2010.

In his address at the convergence, Bai Matarr Drammeh, president of the GCCI, who was deputised by Abdou Njie, Board member of GCCI, said that in the sub-region economic growth dropped by 2.5 per cent in 2009.

Mr Njie said The Gambia was not spared since growth was affected though not in a big way because of "bumper harvest in agriculture".

"In the region, however, growth is expected to rebound and will grow by 5 to 5.5 percent in 2010 and 2011 respectively. The implication is that the region is gradually recovering from crisis," he said.

"The recent economy showdown has imposed serious hardship not only to the developed nations but to developing countries as well. It should be noted that the economic crisis emanated from the developed countries such as the US and Europe but its impact has spread around the world."

This recent crisis, he went on, has made the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals shaky due to the fall in incomes and increase in unemployment.

In his presentation, Meshack Tunee Tjirongo, the IMF resident representative to The Gambia, underscored the important role of the private sector in any economy, which is of paramount importance. In his view, despite the hurdles of the economic order, the country's economy still remains positive.

"In the US, which is the largest economy, the private sector demand for growth is still low. The result will be weak recovery in advanced countries and much stronger in developing countries," he said.

According to him, the composition of fiscal spending remains broadly pro given and pro poor in many countries.

Dilating on the risk to the outlook, Mr Tjirongo said there are three global factors that are likely to influence region-wide trend layered with stock on domestic nature that can affects individual countries.

For his part, Abdou Salam Secka, chief executive officer of the GCCI, said that some of the reasons for Africa's resilience, according to the IMF, are improved policies.

"Many African countries from late 1990s onwards ran better policies in the past which helped mitigate the impact of the downturn with strengthened fiscal position, reduced debt burden, lower inflation, and better cushions of foreign reserves," Mr Secka said.