Sunday, February 2, 2014

Gambia records massive drop in foreign aid in 2013

In 2010, the EU cut 22 million euros of budget support (aid) to The Gambia over human rights concerns.
A Committee of the Central Bank of The Gambia (CBG) has indicated that grants to the country have significantly dropped last year.
CBG’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) reports Friday that grants fall from D1.8 billion in 2012 to D725.1 million in 2013. The figure represents a difference of over D1 billion.

The MPC report states that provisional data on the execution of the 2013 budget show that total revenue and grants amounted to D5.9 billion, 17 .5 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP).

This, according to the Committee, falls below the target of D7.7 billion, 20 per cent of GDP. 

The country’s main donor, the EU, cut a significant proportion of aid money (22 million Euros) to The Gambia in 2010 over human rights concerns. The Gambia withdrew from the Commonwealth and had cutoff diplomatic ties with Taiwan in 2013.

However, the MPC quarterly report did not link the drastic decline in grants to the country to neither the EU aid cut, nor the withdrawal from the Commonwealth or the break off of ties with Taiwan. 

Last year, the International Monetary Fund, IMF, suggested to The Gambia government to undertake “further tax reforms to strengthen revenues and [to] address costly tax expenditures.”
On January 31, 2014, Central Bank Governor Amadou Colley, told a briefing in Banjul, that “domestic revenue, comprising both tax and non-tax revenue, increased by 10.6 per cent to D5.2 billion.” 

“D4.6 billion of which was on account of international trade taxes,” he added.

A former National Assembly Member for Basse, Gambia’s second capital, had warned the government “not to depend on grants to finance its economy”, according to Gambia News Online.

Hon. Sellu Bah said: “Let us work as a nation to ensure that we collect our domestic revenue to the letter to counter any negative response on grants.”

“I think this [huge reduction in grants] would teach us a lesson,” Bah is quoted to have said.

In a New Year’s Eve address to Gambians, President Yahya Jammeh said his country’s development achievements were attained in the past 19 years thanks to “a vision for national development that is anchored on faith in the Almighty Allah, self-reliance and honest productive work.”

“Having come thus far, with the philosophy outlined above, I am not going to change that philosophy overnight because of foreign influence tagged to the bait of aid that is conditioned on the acceptance of alien cultures like homosexuality and unbridled freedoms that are not in line with our religious and cultural beliefs,” he said.

Written by Modou S. Joof

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