IMF Reaches Staff-Level Agreement with The Gambia on a Program to be Supported under the Extended Credit Facility
February 11, 2020
End-of-Mission press releases include statements of IMF staff teams that convey preliminary findings after a visit to a country. The views expressed in this statement are those of the IMF staff and do not necessarily represent the views of the IMF’s Executive Board. Based on the preliminary findings of this mission, staff will prepare a report that, subject to management approval, will be presented to the IMF’s Executive Board for discussion and decision.
- The Gambia has built a positive track record of performance and advanced the structural reform agenda under the 2019 Staff Monitored Program (SMP).
- The restructuring of The Gambia’s external debt is being finalized following commitments provided by participating creditors.
- The Gambia is requesting a three-year program to be supported by a financial arrangement under the Extended Credit Facility (ECF).
An International Monetary Fund (IMF) team, led by Jaroslaw Wieczorek,
visited Banjul during February 3–11 to take stock of the 2019 SMP
implementation and agree with The Gambian authorities on policies
underpinning their request for a three-year program that could be supported
by an ECF arrangement in the amount of SDR 35 million (or around $US 48
million). At the conclusion of the mission, Mr. Wieczorek issued the
“Real GDP growth in 2019 is estimated to have reached 6 percent despite the
temporary drop in tourist arrivals in November 2019 following the
bankruptcy of Thomas Cook (UK) and a much lower agricultural output due to
the erratic rainfall. This strong performance reflected The Gambia’s
gaining competitiveness as a tourist destination, strong private sector
consumption and investment supported by foreign exchange inflows, greater
availability of credit, and a much-improved reliability of electricity and
water supply. Over the medium term, sound macroeconomic policies will
underpin the prospects for sustained growth, the strengthening of foreign
exchange buffers, and inflation moderating from an average of 7.1 percent
in 2019 to the Central Bank of The Gambia’s target of 5 percent.
“Significantly improved fiscal efforts in 2018 and 2019 helped to reduce
the deficit, in major part, thanks to strong domestic revenue mobilization.
The public debt-to-GDP ratio declined from nearly 87 percent of GDP in 2018
to around 81 percent of GDP in 2019. The Gambia’s 2020 Budget, approved in
December 2019, is aligned with IMF staff’s projections. It aims to
stabilize the domestic public debt, building on a continued strong domestic
revenue performance and appropriate tax policy measures, with additional
resources channeled toward public investment and social spending.
“The Gambia’s performance under the 2019 SMP has been strong. Quantitative
targets, including on domestic borrowing by the government and on
poverty-reducing spending were met. The implementation of the 2019 budget
was accompanied by strong tax revenue effort, improved expenditure control
and debt management. Measures were taken to enable the clearing of domestic
payment arrears with suppliers and among state-owned enterprises. Timely
preparation of a medium-term fiscal framework strengthened the strategic
orientation of the 2020 budget and enhanced its credibility.
“The Gambia is making concerted efforts to bridge governance gaps, tackle
the vulnerability to corruption and take concrete actions to prosecute
human traffickers. The works of the Janneh Commission and the Truth,
Reconciliation and Reparations Commission have been particularly laudable,
helping to identify past corruption, laying the basis for asset recovery
and dispensing justice to the victims of the previous regime. The draft
Anti-Corruption Bill, recently submitted to the National Assembly, is
expected to increase efficiency in tackling corruption.
“The Gambia has made much needed progress on the restructuring of its
external debt. Debt service deferrals, agreed with most of participating
creditors, have markedly improved The Gambia’s debt outlook and enabled it
to exit from debt distress. Nonetheless, great care is needed to avoid
contracting any new non-concessional debt, given the high level of the
public debt and the large existing pipeline of the already contracted
“With the anticipated debt relief, the prerequisites for The Gambia to
enter into a financing arrangement with the IMF are largely in place. An
ECF arrangement will catalyze much needed resources from other
international partners and enable The Gambia to fulfill its economic
potential, address pressing social needs, and build on the structural
reform agenda of the 2019 SMP. Further efforts will be needed to strengthen
revenue mobilization, public financial management and the governance of
state-owned enterprises, while improving public investment and procurement
processes. As institutional capacity develops, the focus of reforms should
be broadened to cover novel components, including gender budgeting and
addressing climate change-induced economic challenges, which are of primary
importance for The Gambia given its unique riparian ecosystem.
“The IMF team will submit, for the consideration of its Executive Board, a
report on the assessment of the 2019 SMP and supporting The Gambian
authorities’ request for a program supported under an ECF arrangement.
“The mission met with President Adama Barrow, Minister for Finance and
Economic Affairs Minister Mambury Njie, Governor of the Central Bank of The
Gambia Bakary Jammeh, Solicitor General Cherno Marenah, Director General
for the Department of Strategic Policy and Delivery at the Office of the
President Alhagie Nyangado, and senior staffs of the Ministry of Finance
and Economic Affairs, the Central Bank of The Gambia, and state-owned
enterprises. The mission also met with representatives of the private
sector, civil society and development partners.
“The mission would like to thank The Gambian authorities for the
constructive discussions, and their cooperative spirit and warm
IMF Communications Department
PRESS OFFICER: Gediminas Vilkas
Phone: +1 202 623-7100Email: MEDIA@IMF.org