Hon. Seedy Keita, the Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs
By Ramatoulie Jawo
Hon. Seedy Keita, the Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, responded to concerns raised by National Assembly Members (NAMs) regarding the modest allocation of funds to various ministries and sectors. The response took place during the debate on the Finance and Public Account (FPAC) consolidated report for the 2024 estimates and revenue expenditure of The Gambia.
Hon. Keita explained that during the budget execution update for the first six months, he informed the assembly that no budget support had been received during that period. Despite ongoing efforts with partners, the budget support agreement was only recently signed. Consequently, the ministry operated for 11 months of the financial year without significant budget support, leading to reduced allocations. Hon. Keita emphasized that the Ministry did not intend to cut expenditure allocation to sectors, but had to exercise fiscal prudence due to the absence of budget support.
“When I updated this August Assembly on the execution of the budget for the first six months, we did mention that budget support was not received. Yes, budget support was not received at the time of the first half, and we have been working with our partners, but up until now, we’ve just concluded signing the budget support agreement, and as we speak, we have been able to complete 11 months of the financial year without any budget support of a significant amount. As such, that forms the basis of reduced allocation, and we have no interest as a Ministry in cutting expenditure allocation to sectors. Because that is against our wish, but we had to embark on fiscal prudence,” Hon. Keita said.
He reported savings of D4.8 Billion in expenditures, citing the absence of budget support as the reason for reduced allocations. He assured the National Assembly that once budget support arrives, arrears accumulated during the year will be settled with contractors and beneficiaries.
“When the budget support comes, whatever arrears we have compiled in the past will be paid out to the contractor and various beneficiaries that were owed. But just to emphasize that we have savings, and we are very mindful of the deficit, if we were just allocated to the sectors, we would have overblown the borrowing, and of course the interest expenses will also be very high,” he highlighted.
Addressing concerns raised by NAMs about certain sectors receiving less than 30% of their allocations, Hon. Keita explained that such cases were rare. He pointed out that personal emoluments (PE) typically constitute over 30% of sector allocations, and there were no issues with PE allocations for both government and subvention agencies. Hon. Keita expressed hope that, with timely revenue realization, future allocations would align accordingly. However, he emphasized the overarching objective of ensuring that expenditures do not exceed collections significantly, as this would exert pressure on the basis of reduced allocations.
“Because if you look at any sector, personal emoluments (PE) comprise more than 30% of the allocation, and there was no allocation issue on Personal emoluments (PE). All the personal emoluments (PE) of both the government and subvention agencies were fully allocated, so notwithstanding, we hope going forward if revenues are realized on time, allocation will follow suit, but the overarching objective is to ensure that we do not spend more than we collect in any given month by large and significant amounts because otherwise it will put pressure on the borrowing that forms the basis of the reduced allocations,” Hon. Keita told the Parliament.