Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Gambia to submit a supplementary budget to National Assembly

Finance Minister Kolley is expected to submit an additional budget to the National Assembly. Last year, he said his ministry had to seek for an additional funding due to "urgent spending pressures". He warned fellow ministers to stop unnecessary spending.

An International Monetary Fund mission has welcomed the intention of The Gambia Government “to submit a fully-funded supplementary budget to the National Assembly.”
The supplementary budget is expected to be approved by the tiny West African country’s parliament later this month, an IMF statement said on April 10. 

The process has since become a routine of the government to ask for additional money on top of the already approved national budget.  Some of the funding comes loans or from the Consolidated Revenue Fund, the government’s main bank account into which all fees, taxes and revenues of the government, including court fines among others are paid

But, this time, the government is funding the proposed supplementary budget by itself. 

In September last year, the Gambia government claims it under budgeted its 2012 fiscal year and requested the house of parliament to support its quest to access an additional funding close to D500 million with less than three months to the end of the year.

That money D470.701, 622 was approved after Finance and Economic Affairs Minister Abdou Kolley argued his Finance Ministry was facing “urgent spending pressures.”

In mid 2011, the legislature gave a nod to a supplementary appropriation bill of D219, 800, 000 tabled by ex-Finance Minister Mambury Njie - more than 100 percent the amount Parliament approved in 2010.

In 2009 and 2010 the government has taken more than D300, 000, 000 and D100, 000, 000, respectively, upon approval by the country’s Parliament.

The tiny West African nation of 1.7 million is ranked among the Least Developed Countries (LCDs) and a Heavily Indebted Poor Country (HIPC). 

The Gambia still faces a heavy debt burden, the IMF said in April 2013. A World Bank report published in 2012 said “the debt forgiveness grant for the country was last reported at US $1330000 in 2010”.

“Poverty is endemic in Gambia, with almost a third of the population undernourished and 60% of the population living on less than a dollar a day. And yet the country spent 6.3% of its Gross Domestic Product on servicing its debts, some $29 million, in 2005,” the World Bank says.

In an address to the United Nations 67th General Assembly in New York on September 26, 2012, The Gambia’s vice president Dr. Isatou Njie-Saidy admits “Debt servicing still poses a major threat to our ability to attain sustainable growth.” 

She suggested debt cancellation or forgiveness is still a major option in order to help developing countries like The Gambia to continue to benefit from the appreciable growth they are experiencing and as well compromise their capacities to bring education and healthcare to their peoples. 

Written by Modou S. Joof

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