ABIDJAN, May 9 (Reuters) – Gambia must refrain from new government borrowing, the International Monetary Fund warned on Wednesday, after its debt stock reached around 130 percent of gross domestic product at the end of last year.
More than half of that debt is owed to external creditors, the Fund said in a statement following a mission to the West African country.
Gambia is emerging from over two decades of authoritarian rule under ex-president Yahya Jammeh, who led a lavish lifestyle, often on state funds, before being forced to flee into exile a year ago.
Most of the debt was contracted under Jammeh, either through borrowing or the government’s taking on the liabilities of state-owned enterprises.
“Maintaining debt sustainability will necessitate refraining from contracting new government debt or contingent liabilities before additional fiscal and borrowing space has been achieved, and leveraging more private investment,” the IMF said.
The statement said Gambia’s economy is expected to expand by 5 to 5.5 percent this year, up from 3.5 percent last year. (Reporting by Joe Bavier, editing by Edward McAllister, Larry King).