By Ramatoulie Jawo
The Gambia’s Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Honorable Seedy Keita, presented the 2024 budget estimates to the National Assembly on Friday, November 17, 2023.
As the authority responsible for reviewing and approving the national budget, Keita moved a motion for Parliament to consider and approve the estimates, which outline the government’s expected income and spending for the 2024 fiscal year.In his address to the lawmakers, Minister Keita disclosed that the projected total Revenue and Grants for 2024 are expected to reach D34.93 billion, reflecting a 5% growth compared to the 2023 budget of D33.22 billion. He highlighted a 24% increase in tax revenue, attributing it to economic improvements, advancements in tax administration through digitalization, and enhanced compliance.
Moreover, Minister Keita outlined plans for a tax expenditure policy, aiming to boost revenue by minimizing exemptions, enhancing third-party data collection, and improving tax compliance. He emphasized ongoing efforts to augment Corporate Income Tax (CIT) collection from major contractors, especially those involved in significant government contracts in the construction and public-private partnership (PPP) sectors.
“Furthermore, a tax expenditure policy to be adopted will also help to enhance revenue by reducing exemptions, increasing the collection of third-party data, and improving tax compliance. There are also ongoing efforts to increase the collection of Corporate Income Tax (CIT) of major contractors, particularly those benefiting from major government contracts in the construction sector and in PPP contracts,” he highlighted.
Honorable Keita also shared that preliminary engagements have commenced with entities ready to regularize their tax obligations. Additionally, measures to strengthen rental income tax collection include developing a comprehensive register of property owners for improved tax compliance.
“In addition, the current scope for rental income tax collection will be enhanced by developing a comprehensive register of owners of residential and commercial properties in order to strengthen tax compliance under this income tax category,”
The Minister anticipated an 86% increase in non-tax revenue, citing expected receipts from an arbitration award ($10 million) and the first tranche of $15 million from the Trans-Gambia Asset Recycling Program. An extra D500 million has been factored in to further boost non-tax revenue and enhance domestic resource mobilization.
“However, an additional D500 million has been factored in to cater for more revenues from non-tax revenue and reflect the enhanced domestic resource mobilization drive. It’s time for the revenue base to expand to reflect self-reliance for our national development, instead of relying on donor/ partner support.
Regarding budget support, Minister Keita stated that the 2024 budget includes D3.18 billion from development partners, up from D2.77 billion in 2023. The major contributors are expected to be the World Bank (USD 25 million), the European Union (EUR 14 million), the African Development Bank (USD 7 million), and Agence France Development AFD (EUR 5 Million).
He explained that project grant disbursement is revised downward by 34% to align with the optimistic projections of 2023, aiming to closely match estimates with anticipated outcomes.
“Project grant disbursement is revised downwards by 34 percent to reflect the optimistic projections of 2023; this adjustment in project grant will help to match estimates as close as possible to its anticipated out turns,” he said.The Minister concluded by noting that total expenditure and net lending are projected to increase by six percent, reaching D39.38 billion in 2024. The rise is attributed mainly to increases in debt interest and personnel emolument expenditures, with debt interest expected to grow by 76%, reaching D5.9 billion in 2024. Personnel emolument expenditures are also projected to increase from D6.10 billion in 2023 to D7.43 billion in 2024, accounting for adjustments related to unplanned recruitments in 2023.
“Personnel Emolument expenditures are also projected to increase from D6.10 billion (revised to D6.7 billion) in 2023 to D7.43 billion in 2024. However, personnel emoluments have been revised in 2023 to take into account adequate adjustments relating to unplanned recruitments,” he said.