The Annual Report of the Central Bank of The Gambia submitted to the joint session of the Public Accounts and Enterprises Committees PAC/PEC of the National Assembly, Thursday, revealed that the country's external debt stock has exceeded more than US$400 million dollars while the domestic debt stock grew to D9.4 billion dalasi.
"At the end of 2011, the Gambia's gross external debt stock was estimated at US$400.1 million dollars compared with US$377.1 million dollars in 2010", the report indicates.
According to the report, the primary objective of the Gambia's external debt policy in 2011 was to meet government financing needs at minimum cost while maintaining debt sustainability. But the report revealed that the standard debt indicators show that the Gambia's external debt burden remained high. It further revealed the total external debt service comprising of principal and interest payments of US$19.20 million in 2011.
The report indicates that the increment on the domestic debt was mainly driven by Treasury bills. It revealed that the bulk of the Treasury bills was held by the commercial banks. It has attributed some problems to Social security and Housing Finance Cooperation (SSHFC), a major non bank public investor's failure to re-invest their mature bills during the period under review.
"The Gambian economy faced considerable policy challenges coming into 2011", asserted Mr. Amadou Colley, the Governor of Central Bank.
Governor Colley blames the steady decline of the global economy as a major challenge to the growth of the Gambian economy in 2011. He mentioned the global economic uncertainties caused by escalation in sovereign default risks in the Euro area, the Japanese tsunami and the unrest in the Arab world. He also mentioned that the Gambia's monetary policy was tightened mainly by mopping up liquidity through increased net sales of Treasury bills.
"The year also witnessed major developments in the payments system with the introduction of new processes for clearing cheques and other payment methods", he disclosed.
The Central Bank Governor mentioned the introduction of government's Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS) with Central Bank in 2011. He said this has enabled the operation of the national payments and would ensure that government spending does not exceed available resources.