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9467 Posts

Posted - 21 Nov 2019 :  09:19:23  Show Profile Send Momodou a Private Message  Reply with Quote

Finance Minister tables 2020 Estimates before Lawmakers

Foroyaa: November 19, 2019

As a requirement of the Constitution under section 152 (1), the Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs on Monday, 18th November 2019 presented the estimates of revenues, recurrent and development expenditure for the fiscal year 2020.

The National Assembly is the authority that is responsible for reviewing and approving national budget of The Gambia.

In his statement, the Minister indicated that while revenue in 2018 decreased from 25.2 billion dalasi to 24.5 billion dalasi in 2019, expenditure is estimated to increase from 28.8 billion dalasi to 30.0 billion dalasi. In short, the deficit of 3.6 billion dalasi in 2018 is expected to increase to 5.5 billion dalasi in 2019.

The Minister attributes the fall to project grants and budget support.
The Minister also gave a gloomy picture of the debt problem.

He said:“Debt interest payment is projected to consume around forty percent of Government’s tax revenue in 2020 compared to 26 percent in 2019, moving from 2.702 billion in 2019 to 4.648 billion in 2020. The increment is a result of mounting debt stock, domestic debt in particular, coupled with the envisaged rolling over of some of the domestic debt.”

He said the Gambian economy is anticipated to grow by 4 per cent in 2019 compared to actual real growth of 6.5 per cent in 2018.

“The decline in growth is as a result of anticipated setbacks in both the agriculture and services sectors. Growth in these two sectors is projected at -2.6% and 1.5% in 2019 compared to 0.9% and 9.9% in 2018, for agricultural and services respectively. The contraction is on account of the delayed rains and the impact of the collapse of Thomas Cook – the major carrier of tourists to The Gambia,” the Minister said.

He said in terms of sector contribution to GDP, Services continues to dominate with a 55 % share contribution, followed by Industry and Agriculture contributing 20 and 18 per cent respectively. He said this suggests a change in share contribution from the previous years where agriculture ranked second with 20 per cent and industry 15 per cent.

“The late start of this year’s cropping season which was characterized by intermittent dry spells has resulted in a drop in the actual area cultivated compared to what was planned for this cropping season as per the mid-season assessment report. The report highlighted that the area cultivated for upland and lowland rice dropped by 41 per cent and 50 per cent respectively, 59 per cent for groundnuts, 48 per cent for coarse-grain crops and 38 per cent for early millet.

He said the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at current prices is estimated at 86.6 billion in 2019 compared to D78.6 billion in 2018, representing a growth of 10.1%. He said the GDP is expected to grow by 4% in 2019 compared to actual outturn of 6.5% in 2018.

“The agricultural sector is anticipated to experience contraction in 2019 due to primarily on poor performance from two important subsectors: crops and livestock. Both of which are anticipated to decline to -6.2 and -10.0 per cent in 2019, compared to 6.6 and -5.6 per cent last year. Forestry and fishing, on the other hand, are expected to grow by 1.1 and 5.9 percent respectively in 2019,” the Minister said.

He said the projected growth in the fishing sector is attributed to recent FDI inflows that are geared towards a new fish factory, and the commencement of a new fishing agreement between the European Union and the government of The Gambia.

He said the industry sector is anticipated to record the strongest growth in 2019, with a projected growth rate of 20.3% compared to 2.5% in 2018. He said the drivers of growth in the sector are construction, electricity and water, adding that these subsectors are anticipated to grow by 31.7, 12.6 and 9.5 per cent respectively. He said the expansion is attributed to growth in both private and public construction, increased power generation and water production capacity due to the commissioning of new generator sets by NAWEC.
On the services, the Minister said growth is anticipated to be mild due to the impact of the collapse if Thomas Cook, slashing the growth outlook of hotels and restaurants from 18.8 per cent in 2018 to 6.2 per cent in 2019. He added that communication, finance and insurance, and real estate are anticipated to register a growth of 13.4, 12.6 and 6.9 per cent respectively.

He said the current account deficit has narrowed to $25.8 million (1.5 percent of the GDP) in the first half of 2019 compared to a deficit of $26.7 million (1.7 per cent of GDP) in the corresponding period in 2018.

“The improvement in the current account balance is attributed to the increase in foreign inflows related to the support from development partners, diaspora remittances, and tourism,” he said.

Minister Njie said the goods account balance is estimated at a deficit of $194.60 million (11% of GDP) in the first six months of 2019 compared to a deficit of $150.0 million (9.3% of GDP) in the corresponding period in 2018.

He said: “The widening of the deficit in the goods account was due to the increase in imports, which reflects rising economic activity. Imports rose to $277.7 million or by 29.8 per cent in the first half of 2019 from $214.0 million in the same period of 2018. Exports also increased by 35.6 per cent to $74.4 million during the period under review.”

He said services account balance, on the other hand, registered a surplus of $59.7 million in the first six months of 2019, higher than a surplus of $40.5 million a year ago, and explained largely by the increase in tourist arrivals.

He said the capital account balance, improved to a surplus of $7.54 million from a surplus of $4.63 million in the previous year, mainly on account of official flows. However, the Minister said financial account balance worsened to a deficit of $30.72 million in the first half of 2019 compared to a deficit of $8.12 million in the corresponding period a year ago due to the increase in currency and deposit by 35.2 per cent.

A clear concience fears no accusation - proverb from Sierra Leone


9467 Posts

Posted - 27 Nov 2019 :  08:04:26  Show Profile Send Momodou a Private Message  Reply with Quote
National Assembly paves a new path in scrutinising national budgets

Foroyaa: November 26, 2019

In making a motion for the National Assembly to depart from the past and take the new approach demanded by the new Standing Orders, Halifa Sallah cited Standing Order 53(m) to give legal justification for his action. He also cited Standing Order 84 to confirm that the National Assembly has the responsibility to allocate the draft budget of each ministry to a committee of the National Assembly for scrutiny.

The National Assembly has demonstrated its readiness to carry out its oversight function by unanimously accepting to assume a greater responsibility of budgetary scrutiny. The public should now show greater interest in the work of the National Assembly. Since the inception of the National Assembly, the gallery is only full to capacity when there is a function of one sort or the other. If it were not for the media houses, few people would know what the National Assembly members are doing. People should therefore get used to attending National Assembly sessions.

Deputies refer draft budget to relevant committees

The Point: Tuesday, November 26, 2019

The National Assembly Members (NAMs) on Monday referred the projected budget for 2020 to the relevant committees of the Assembly for proper scrutiny and also to have clear understanding of the budget allocation to all the ministries before a debate takes place.

When the motion was tabled for debate, Hon. Halifa Sallah, the lawmaker for Serekunda reminded his colleagues, citing Section 53 (m) and 84 of the Standing Order for the debate to be postponed till Wednesday as the bill goes for proper scrutiny.

He thus outlined the vitality of the various committees.

Last week, Finance Minister Mambury Njie tabled the draft estimate of 2020 budget, stating that the total revenue and grants in 2020 were projected at D24.47 billion, representing a reduction of 3% over 2019 figure of D25.2 billion.

The minister further explained that total expenditure and net-lending was projected to increase from D28.825 billion in 2019 to D30.048 billion in 2020, representing an increase of 4 percent.

Author: Ismaila Sonko

A clear concience fears no accusation - proverb from Sierra Leone
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9467 Posts

Posted - 02 Dec 2019 :  21:23:26  Show Profile Send Momodou a Private Message  Reply with Quote
NAMs Approve Axed 2020 Estimates

ForoYaya: December 2, 2019

Abdoulai G. Dibba

Members of the National Assembly on Saturday 30th November 2019 at 06:05 am approved the 2020 estimates after chopping off 350 million dalasi.

The National Assembly which is the authority responsible for reviewing and approving the national budget of the country, put on the service delivery and control of wasteful expenses lenses to scrutinise the 2020 estimates presented before them by the Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs on Monday, 18th November 2019.

In scrutinising the estimates, the NAMs guided themselves with the excess of government expenditures over revenue which the minister said is expected to increase to 5.5 billion dalasi in 2019 as opposed to 3.6 billion dalasi in 2018.

Being mindful of the danger of widening the deficit which will lead to deficit financing which will automatically increase the debt burden, the National Assembly Members decided for the first time to cut down on expenditure that is not geared to service delivery or income generation and allocated to areas that are geared to service delivery or income generation.
The painstaking process has enabled the National Assembly Members to cut down 350 million Dalasi from the estimated expenditure. They also relocated expenditure in the Ministries of Tourism, Health, Agriculture, the Interior and others to provide for the museum, the hotel school, training doctors, seeds and seeds stores and vehicles for border patrol just to name a few.

After a 22 hours of marathon scrutiny of the estimates, the National Assembly Members finally approved the estimates with a lot of amendments (cut and paste or delete as they put it).

Foroyaa will give a detailed report on the amendments.

A clear concience fears no accusation - proverb from Sierra Leone
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9467 Posts

Posted - 04 Dec 2019 :  10:46:46  Show Profile Send Momodou a Private Message  Reply with Quote
‘Loan Dependency Sacrifices Country’s Sovereignty’

Foroyaa: December 2, 2019

By: Kebba AF Touray

Sidia Jatta, the National Assembly Member for Wuli West Constituency has stressed that any nation whose development is fundamentally based on loans and grants, is a nation whose sovereignty is sacrificed.

Mr Jatta made these comments during the debate on the budget estimates for the year 2020 at the National Assembly on Thursday 28th November 2019, and urged that key sectors of Government such as agriculture, tourism, fisheries, health and education should be given priority and strategically sourced in the budget.

“But if you look at it the sectors that should enable the country stand on its feet, they are not adequately budgeted for. That is why for five decades to date, we have been living on loans and grants. And any nation that depends on loans and grants is a nation whose sovereignty is sacrificed. The proof is that today Chinese and Turkish languages are taught in our University because China gave Gambia a grant of 75 million dollars and 25-million-dollar loan. This is what put them in this position. This is because we feel we have a new source of money and we must please them for us to continue to tap money from them (Turkey and China),” Mr. Jatta told his colleague deputies; that the new draft Constitution mandates the National Assembly to speak their national languages as it was advocated for by Members; that the fundamental focus of the country should be to teach the citizenry and Lawmakers to become apt in writing and speaking their own national languages.

“But instead we are now talking about Chinese and Turkish because of money and we say we are a sovereign nation. A sovereign nation building a foreign tongue which is alien to the people you are representing and budgeting for,” Jatta said.

He said for people to have ownership of the budget, they should be contacted and involved during the budgeting process to be able to have their inputs as to what they want included; that to make the budget accessible to them and for them to understand what it contains in their national languages.

Sidia said budgeting has two fundamental strategies; that one is to concentrate on the sectors that have the capacity to generate revenue and to invest more into those sectors and the other is to make strategic expenditure.

“Agriculture has dilapidated in the country for five decades and we all say that it is the pillar for economic growth. The reason why it has been in this scenario is because we neither put into practice what we say and nor are we committed to what we say,” Sidia said; that ‘‘because we are not budgeting to develop this country but instead budgeting to sustain people who are in positions’’; that this is exactly what has been happening in this country for five decades now. He asked how a Minister can have two expensive vehicles at a time when a health facility does not have an ambulance to transport the sick as well as villages lacking access to portable water and electricity.

He continued: “As long as we talk about the importance of certain sectors without addressing them, we will keep on begging and taking loans and will keep on sacrificing the sovereignty of this country. Because of unstrategic planning and budgeting for every D100 spent in this country, D41 or D42 will go to debt servicing for the 2020 budget; and if you add what goes into debt servicing and serious commitment, you are only left with 10% of the country’s budget. Where do you go with 10% of the budget?” Sidia asked his colleagues.

In conclusion, he challenged parliament to take a decision as from this year; that from henceforth they will manage the resources in such a way that the country will be able to produce what they (Gambians) need, without relying primarily on others; that what is primary to the country’s existence should be fundamental to everyone and should be managed ourselves.

A clear concience fears no accusation - proverb from Sierra Leone
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9467 Posts

Posted - 04 Dec 2019 :  10:49:47  Show Profile Send Momodou a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Suwaibou Touray’s Contribution to The 2020 Budget Estimates

Foroyaa: December 2, 2019

By Kebba Touray

Suwaibou Touray, the National Assembly Member for Wuli East Constituency said he is convinced that the Minister has adequately furnished the House on the economic situation of the country.

He said the Minister has told them clearly that the growth in the economy is slowing down from 6.5% to 4.0%; that Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is also expected to grow by 4.0% instead of 6.5% in 2018, slower than in 2019.

Mr Touray who was speaking during the debate on the budget estimates for the year 2020 at the National Assembly on Thursday 28th November 2019 said:

‘‘We are also told that the Gambia Local Funds (GLF) is not sufficient to cater for the recurrent expenditure needs; That we are in deficit in that regard and therefore we must borrow to be able to meet the deficit.’’

Touray in his contribution referred his colleagues to page 12 of the Minister’s statement and said that they were told there would be fewer revenue and grants in 2020 compared to 2019, which will be almost less by 1 Billion dalasi; that the Minister’s Statement on Page 13, indicate that total expenditure and net lending shall be greater from 28 Billion to 30 Billion dalasi, about 4% of the estimates and that the bulk of that increment is due to debt interest payments; that 40% of Government’s tax revenue in 2020 which amounts to 4 Billion and 648 Million Dalasi, shall be for debt interest payment.

He asked his colleagues to remember that they had paid interest payments amounting to 26% or D2 Billion 702 Million of tax revenues for 2019, which has now increased to 4.648 billion in 2020.

This he said means that despite receiving less revenue for the year, they are still bent on spending more with the intention to borrow more just to be able to spend even more. And this he said is a country that is struggling to come out of the debt trap.

‘‘Hon. Speaker, what then is the solution to this problem?’’ he asked; that according to the Minister, the solution is to borrow more money domestically than they did for 2019; that they need to borrow 3.9 billion dalasi to finance the deficit.

Touray said his understanding is that they are going to progressively reduce domestic borrowing with a view to lowering it to an acceptable level to allow Commercial Banks to have more savings so that they can lend more to local investors in order to boosting the productive base of the economy. He then asked the Minister of Finance to correct him if he is wrong, but the Minister could be seen nodding his head.

Suwaibu then asked whether this is not encouraging a reverse of that trend of thinking; that whatever restructuring they intend to undertake with the country’s debt to free up 2 billion dalasi with a view to defer the payment to a further date, should not be simply to pass the burden of debt to our children to shoulder; but to ensure that the burden of debt repayment be shared between the present and future generation in an equitable way.
He also referred to the Minister’s statement in paragraph 28 and quoted the following:
‘‘For 2019, the projected budget support from the European Union (EU) and the World Bank (WB), which comprises the bulk of our estimated support for this year, have not materialised as at end September’’.

He reminded his colleagues that he had earlier expressed the fear of donor weariness in a situation where a country makes it a culture of depending on donor support; that instead of addressing the crux of the matter, they are choosing the easier way getting more loans to finance ‘‘our deficits’’; that it will be interesting to know what development policy operation targets have not been realised which has given rise to slippages as stated in the Minister’s statement.

On the issue of taxation, Suwaibu said during their oversight functions over NGOs, all the NGOs they visited across the country complained of gross taxation which affects their operations and negatively impacts on their contribution on their target communities; that NGOs play crucial roles in addressing socio-economic needs of rural communities; and that taxing NGOs should be done in such a way that it will not limit their role in addressing the socio-economic needs of rural communities.

Suwaibu also said that he has searched in the Revenue Section of the budget estimates but cannot find anywhere that Gross Taxation is mentioned on NGOs. He called on the Minister to address this anomaly.

On the Legal Aid Agency, Touray explained the important role it plays in the area of human rights as well as in serving as an oversight institution for the Judiciary; that this agency is badly underfunded and personnel do not even have mobility to do their jobs; that they have to move across the country and provide legal aid to needy victims. He said agencies like Ombudsperson, National Human Rights Commission and Legal Aid need adequate funding to carry out their mandate.

On Reparations, the Wuli East Law maker expressed the view that this should be captured in the Budget Estimates for the Gambia to be seen to be serious about reparations; that “we should not establish institutions without helping them to function to serve the purpose for which they are established”; that “the International community will not take us seriously if we do not open a budget on reparations”; that the Minister should ensure this is done.

Coming back to the Budget itself, Suwaibou Touray said one way of helping the country overcome its trade deficit is to ensure that trucks involved in the transportation of goods and services are not obstructed in anyway within or outside our territory; that with their engagement with the GCCI, they were informed that the re-export trade is doing fine but it requires the whole business to be digitalised to ensure that trucks have chips which will make it possible for the authorities to track them and know if there is any interference; “that we should know that we are competing with our neighbours in this area and there should be every effort to maximise our gains”.

In conclusion Suwaibu said: ‘‘I remain convinced that this Budget will be a useful tool in our drive to achieve and sustain macro-economic stability and the Government’s primary objective of reducing poverty and improving basic service delivery for all, if we commit ourselves to strict fiscal discipline’’; that “we should utilise Section 27 of the Public Finance Act to appoint temporarily, a technical staff to assist in identifying pertinent issues such as un-necessary allocations demanded by certain sectors and make recommendations to delete them with a view to reducing the deficit in expenditures”. This he said, will greatly help not only in reducing domestic borrowing but during negotiations with Gambia’s debtors; that he has noticed a lot of anomalies since last year and they tend to ignore them; but that they must now be firm and ready to close all such loopholes to save the scarce funds which are badly needed for productive investment.

A clear concience fears no accusation - proverb from Sierra Leone
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9467 Posts

Posted - 04 Dec 2019 :  10:51:25  Show Profile Send Momodou a Private Message  Reply with Quote
‘We have a debt portfolio of D69 million’ Ousman Sillah

Foroyaa: December 2, 2019

By: Kebba AF Touray

Member for Banjul North Ousman Sillah Monday informed his fellow lawmakers that the country is indebted to the tune of between 69 to 70 million dalasi.
He said this during the debate on the budget estimate 2020 at the National Assembly.

He said: “Despite this, I have not seen any efforts made by the executive towards reducing this colossal sum, but instead the executive is bent on contracting more loans that would increase this loan portfolio.”

He said governance, management of the economy and service delivery to the citizenry are challenges for the country, adding that it is important to focus on these sectors with the objective of addressing the challenges in those sectors.

He tasked the current administration to launch a crusade towards ensuring that the government moves away from contracting loans and grants and invest in the productive sectors of the economy.

Sillah emphasized: “These are three challenges of the government and the executive should take note and do its utmost to address these challenges. We should rationally look into this and provide remedies. The upkeep of the State House and the Office of the Vice President are in the tune of 20 and 3 million dalasi”.

He recommended for Parliament to look at the budget lines for the State House and the Office of the Vice President, adding that what is budgeted for the two offices is staggering and over the mark.
He remarked: “We can make enough savings and divert it to other sectors such as health and agriculture, as well as reduce lending.”

He said there are challenges with the health sector, regarding utilization and prioritization of resources and utilities and stressed that they will be engaging the sectors on quarterly basis in conjunction with the Finance Ministry, with a view to ascertain how much has been requested from the Finance Ministry and how much has been released as per the budget allocation and where it has been spent.

He urged the government to take the lead role and encourage the private sector to ensure that investment is made to empower young people as well as development of the informal sector, to ensure budget sustainability and reduce the trend of contracting loans and grants for national development.

He said: “Forty -two percent of the GLF is being committed in debt servicing, this amount could have been committed to the agricultural sector to boost its budget allocation from 2 percent to a bigger percentage to maximize production as well as empower the sector”.

A clear concience fears no accusation - proverb from Sierra Leone
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9467 Posts

Posted - 06 Dec 2019 :  16:08:52  Show Profile Send Momodou a Private Message  Reply with Quote
By Kexx Sanneh

Expenditure of (21,350,646,941) out of Authorised consolidated Revenue Fund for the period 1st January 2020 to 31st December 2020. 21,350,646,941 (twenty one Billion, three hundred and fifty million, six hundred and forty six thousand, Nine hundred and forty one dalasis).

That's our budget your comments is welcome lets discuss our national budget.

1. Office of the President ==== 692,313,516

2. National Assembly ==== 196,449,726

3. Judiciary ===== 170,000,000

4. Independent Electoral ===== 52,000,000

5. Public Service Commission === 9,219,777

6. National Audit Office === 112,000,001

7..Ministry of Defence ===== 762,102,551

8. Ministry of Interior ===== 1,027,132,638

9. Ministry of Tourism & Culture == 40,957,449

10. Ministry of Foreign Affairs = 1,005,827,877

11. Ministry of Justice ===== 297,400,096

12. Ministry of Economics Affair = 978,536,040

13. Pensions and Gratuities ==== 375,678,000

14. Office of ombudsman ==== 20,450,037

15. Centralised Services === 1,450,000,000

16. Minstry of Lands Govt= 154,198,719

17. Ministry of Agriculture === 488,263,515

18. Ministry Works & tran === 651,986,491

19. Ministry of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment == 106,554,171

20. Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education == 2,610,674,224

21. Ministry of Health and Social Welfare == 1,516,933,089

22. Ministry of Youth and Sports = 113,397,960

23. Ministry of Environment, Climate change & Wildlife == 226,646,307

24. Ministry of Information, Communication and Infrastructure == 51,855,464

25. Ministry of Fisheries and Water resources & NAM == 48,880,501

27. Ministry of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology == 324,016,066

29. Ministry of Petroleum&Energy==62,209,830

30. Ministry of women, Children and Social Welfare == 73,568,316

50. Debt Services === 7,731,394,580

51. Total Appropriation == 21,350,646,941

Note: The 2020 budget is estimated at 28M but 11.9m will be generated from the taxpayers money and the remaining balance will be loan and budget support.

A clear concience fears no accusation - proverb from Sierra Leone
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