The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Friday approved the disbursement of about $28.8 million to the Gambia to help meet the country’s financing needs and support social spending as well as the post-pandemic recovery.
IMF said the COVID 19 pandemic continues to represent a significant challenge to The Gambia’s economy. However, growth is expected to rebound to 6.0 percent in 2021.
“The Gambia has been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The authorities’ decisive response to the pandemic has helped to moderate its impact and set the stage for economic recovery. They have advanced reforms for the effective and transparent delivery of much-needed social services, the IMF said.
“Today, the Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) completed the first review of The Gambia’s performance under a program supported by a 39-month Extended Credit Facility (ECF) arrangement. The ECF, with a total access of SDR 20 million, about US$28.8 million, to help meet the country’s balance-of-payments and fiscal financing needs and support the post-pandemic recovery. This brings total disbursements under the arrangement to SDR 25 million, about US$36 million,” the IMF said in a statement.
It added that in completing the review, the Executive Board also approved an augmentation of access under the ECF arrangement from SDR 35 million to SDR 55 million (or 88.4 percent of The Gambia’s quota in the Fund). The Board also completed a financing assurances review and granted a waiver of nonobservance of a continuous quantitative performance criterion relating to a zero ceiling on the accumulation of external payment arrears.
IMF wants Gambia to fight corruption, money laundering, clean NAWEC, GAMTEL…
The IMF approval to disburse about $28.8 million also goes with pieces of advice to the government of Adama Barrow. IMF’s Tao Zhang, Acting Chair and Deputy Managing Director, made the following recommendations to the attention of Mambury Njie.
- Continued commitment to prudent policies and adhering to the fiscal envelope, while protecting social spending is critical to support the recovery and the attainment of program objectives. Efforts to strengthen domestic revenue mobilization should focus on reducing tax exemptions and reinforcing tax and customs administration.
- Reforms to strengthen public financial management would help to improve public service delivery and reduce fiscal risks. Near-term priorities include putting state-owned enterprises on a sound financial footing, strengthening budget execution, and improving debt management to prevent the recurrence of external payment arrears. The authorities are committed to ensuring transparency in COVID-19-related spending.
- To help support the effectiveness of the yet low inflation, steps to strengthen the balance sheet of the central bank, entrench its autonomy, and maintain financial credibility would strengthen the prudent monetary policy stance.
- Measures to strengthen the legal framework for banking supervision and crisis preparedness would help to address mounting risks to financial sector stability. Greater financial inclusion would be supported by measures to strengthen the oversight of non-bank financial institutions and steps to monitor risks from mobile banking.
- Ardent pursuit of governance reforms, including in public procurement, anti-money laundering, and the overall anti-corruption framework is important to enhance transparency. These efforts would also help to cement positive perceptions of The Gambia as a sound business destination and support private sector-led inclusive growth.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, The Gambia has benefited from an IMF Rapid Credit Facility disbursement of SDR 15.55 million (US$ 21.3 million at the time of approval) and is receiving debt service relief from the IMF under the Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust, expected to total SDR 7.9 million, of which SDR 4.2 million (about US$5.83 million) has already been approved.