By Buba Gagigo
The World Bank Group on Monday launched the second Economic Update report for the Gambia (GMBEC2022).
The document provides an update on the economic developments and development challenges facing The Gambia.
This report is meant to give an opportunity for public dialogue about the Gambia’s current economic and structural challenges.
Seedy M. Keita, Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs said the government is more than ready to implement reforms based on the findings of the World Bank’s report and count on the continuous support of the bank and other development partners to achieve this.
He said public debt has increased slightly but the government will continue to consolidate and manage their debt portfolio, while providing infrastructural financing in the medium to long term.
He said the Russia-Ukraine invasion is now being felt domestically as Russia and Ukraine are global players in the supply of basic commodities such as oil, gas and maize highly consume in the Gambia.
“The wars impact on fuel prices has also affected the economic. Government is doing all it can do amid all the challenges to continue to subsidize certain vital sectors such as fuel even though is a pressure on the budget,” he said.
Minister Keita said the government would continue to make health, education and social safety their top priorities.
Nathan M. Belete, World Bank country director said the report expands the analytics beyond the micro poverty update and shares polices suggestions on addressing structural challenges that can help the country.
He said the report also stresses that evidence based and data driven policymaking will be key to raising a sustainable long term growth potential economic.
“The Gambia economic was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, but has since became to recover in 2021, despite a sharp contraction in international travel in 2020,” he said.
Mr. Belete said the Gambia performed better initially than, similar in tourism dependent periods thanks to remittances and agricultural growth.
He continued that the fiscal and current account deficit has become to widen in 2021, adding that fiscal policy reforms are needed to build the fiscal space to respond to future shocks.
The World Bank Group director said the government needs to improve its spending efficiency including its investment in social protection, education and health and that human capital will be key to sustain growth.