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Our economy: a middling performance

Jun 14, 2016, 10:22 AM

The economy of The Gambia has taken up a somewhat turn for the better and for the worse in the last three months.

For the better in the sense that, it has registered some growth in reserve money, and for the worse, the country’s domestic debt has continued to increase over the year.

Both of these developments are necessitated by certain factors as stated by the Central Bank of The Gambia’s monetary policy committee report declared on Thursday 9 June 2016.

The report states that The Gambia’s reserve money grew by 11.9 per cent in the year to end-March 2016 from 12.4 per cent a year earlier.

“This was solely as a result of the 39.7 per cent increase in the NDA [net domestic assets] of the Central Bank.”

On the other hand, the country’s domestic debt rose to D23.2 billion at end-March 2016 (54.7 per cent of GDP) compared to D19.3 billion (48.3 per cent of GDP) in March 2015.

The MPC report stated that the outstanding stock of Treasurybills and Sukuk Al Salam (SAS) combined, (66.2% of the debt), decreased to D15.4 billion, or 2.2% from a year ago.

Other factors that come into play are government fiscal operations, which indicated an increase in total revenue and grants fromD2.19 billion outturn in 2015 to D2.20 in 2016.

The total expenditure and net lending (including payment of arrears and outstanding commitments) also decreased to D2.5 billion, or 3.0 per cent over the corresponding quarter of 2015, which shows some marked fiscal discipline on the part of the Central Bank and state authorities.

However, the exchange rate developments, whose aggregate sales and purchases increased from US$0.63 billion in 2015 to US$0.81 billion, saw a marked depreciation in the value of the Dalasi against the US Dollar by 8.8 per cent, the pound by 4.4 percent and the Euro by 15.7 per cent.

Furthermore, over the year, the economy registered a consumer price inflation of 7.1 per cent in March 2016 compared to 6.5 per cent in March 2015, although food inflation, according to the MPC report, reduced slightly from 8.4 per cent in March 2015 to 8.18 per cent in March 2016.

“Non-food inflation, in contrast, rose to 5.3 per cent in March 2016 from 4.2 per cent in March 2016… and core inflation, which excludes the prices of volatile food items, utilities and energy, rose to 7.1 per cent in March 2016 compared to 6.8 per cent in March 2015.”

These and other indices have given a fair to middling account of our country’s economy between 2015 and 2016. So we hope for the better.

“Don’t lower your expectations to meet your performance. Raise your level of performance to meet your expectations.”

Ralph Marston