21 September 2012

Gambia: The Economy in Focus Again

The development prospect of any nation is dependent on its economy. Therefore, one would expect that the conspicuous development transformation The Gambia has undergone since July 22, 1994, can only be credited to a parallel achievement in an economic sector that continues to receive clean bills of health from international financial and monetary institutions around the world.

What was a traditionally an agriculture-dependent economy has over the years manifested promising tendencies towards industrialisation, with the private sector being led by tourism, trading and fisheries, which are experiencing modest growth. Already, the banking and financial sector has been given a new outlook, with no sign of a halt to the inflow of more financial institutions.

The government and the policies they instituted over the years have been very receptive of the financial sectors and that has made it possible for the enormous growth in the sector. All these factors have enabled the country to progress and the people to be provided with alternative sources of finances to suit their varying needs, all in the quest for national development.

There is so much capital inflow into the country that we are all spoilt for choice in our banking needs and all these are credited to the government's judicious management of the economy. The Dalasi is still stable with the exchange rate market.

The revelation by the IMF mission that the country has taken initial steps towards addressing heavy debt burden as government's net domestic borrowing (NDB) during the first half of 2012, was reduced to 1.2 percent of annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP), compared with 2.3 percent of annual real GDP during the same period in 2011 shows the sound fiscal policies instituted by the government.

The mission further recorgnises that the government remains committed to ceilings on the NDB of 2.5 percent of GDP for 2012 as a whole and 1 percent of GDP in 2013. By easing pressure on the domestic financial market and T-bill yields, it is projected that government's interest payment on domestic debt relative to her revenues would fall from 18 and half percent in 2011 to 18 percent in 2012, to just under 15 and half percent in 2013.

This reality speaks of the financial discipline the president spoke of during his last State Opening of the National Assembly. The pace of development in The Gambia is indeed moving steadily in the right direction under the leadership of President Jammeh. The president's efforts are meant to break the shackles and other obstacles that led to the undesirable gross under-development of low income countries.

His efforts therefore need to be complemented by all Gambians, regardless of political affiliation, in order to get the country where it ought to be. No country can thrive with people who shun, and abandon the cradle in which they were born. No country can develop when her citizens turn a blind eye on salient issues and development challenges that face them.

Government has done quite enough by paving the way for a prosperous Gambia; the sustainability of the gains lies entirely in the hands of the citizenry. We want to take this opportunity to commend the Ministry of Finance and their related institutions for their role in maintaining a progressive economy. Development is a collective endeavour and it is through a common will that its purpose is achieved.

It is therefore a moral responsibility for Gambians, by any means necessary, to complement the efforts of the president in realising our Silicon Valley goal. We are on track, and if we change our attitude for the good and merge our efforts towards the common good, our chances of success will be greater.

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