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Not a good sign at all

Sep 30, 2015, 9:51 AM

The latest IMF report on The Gambia, after its executive board last week concluded its 2015 Article IV Consultation with the country is a great cause for concern.

The report has made bare the weak links in the country’s economic drive and pinpointed heavily on policy slippages, although there were exogenous shocks that hit the economy owing to Ebola outbreak in the sub-region, which gravely affected our tourism sector, as well as the agricultural dent blamed on weather conditions like inadequate rains a year or so ago.

Nevertheless, the report stated that the “large” balance of payments and fiscal imbalances being experienced by the economy were caused by “persistent policy slippages in recent years and financial difficulties in public enterprises”.

These are not good signs at all, and would, therefore, need urgent remedial steps to redirect the country on a sound economic path that would augur well for the average people of our nation.

“The authorities embarked on an economic programme based on a strong 2015 budget and structural reforms, and efforts to secure donor support. The Fund supported the authorities’ efforts through a Rapid Credit Facility (RCF) disbursement in early April 2015 and a Staff-Monitored Program (SMP),” the IMF report stated.

“However, major policy slippages have occurred since the RCF disbursement, pushing the SMP off track and worsening the outlook considerably, especially since budget support from donors will not be forthcoming.

“The fiscal position too has deteriorated significantly since mid-April, while inflationary pressures and T-bill rates have increased, reflecting the inconsistent macroeconomic policies. In the absence of corrective policies, The Gambia’s external viability and fiscal sustainability could be at serious risk.”

For these snags and for the unseeing repercussions, the Fund has called for strong corrective measures to address the growing macroeconomic imbalances, and bring policies back on track to achieve sound economic programme for the country.

Bold action on a variety of fronts, including targeted structural reforms, has also been called for by the Fund, saying it is urgently needed to restore policy credibility, rebuild policy buffers, re-engage development partners and achieve The Gambia’s poverty alleviation goals.

“An ambitious and sustained fiscal adjustment is necessary to bring the fiscal situation under control,” the Fund’s directors advised.

The current state of our economy must, therefore, be seriously addressed to avoid getting into more economic conundrum.

“There is a need for financial reform along ethical lines that would produce in its turn an economic reform to benefit everyone.”

Pope Francis