IMF Extends Credit Facility to The Gambia


IMF Extends Credit Facility to The Gambia

The International Monetary Fund ((IMF) has this week approved a request from Gambian authorities for a breather on the country’s debt stockpile. The Extended Credit Facility instrument provides financial assistance for those countries with protracted balance of payments problems.

A precursor to the Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust – it forms part of a much broader reform to make the Fund’s financial support more flexible and  tailored to the needs of low-income countries. The scheme, also deployed during times of crisis, is the Fund’s main tool for providing medium-term support to low income countries.

Major questions need to be asked of the Barrow govt on its handling, but foremost legality, to contract monetary accords with overseas development lenders without parliament having a say. I trust that cabinet has had thorough briefings from the finance minister on procedural, protocol – in fact that parliament was in the loop all along?

Since the purpose of an extended credit facility is to provide a window for countries experiencing major slippages – therefore – quite reasonable to contend that the administration has failed to meet set targets on sustainable macroeconomic position consistent with poverty reduction goals.

Writing last week, I raised issue with the country’s debt stock and what stress that has on the performance of the dalasi against other currencies. All indications are that The Gambia is facing protracted balance of payment problems given underlying macroeconomic imbalances. IMF officials in Washington DC will have been concerned about the country’s balance of payment needs, and the viability of its Development Plan (NDP) –  the capacity to repay loans.

A citizen of the world, many of us breathe a big sigh of relief last week when Somalia was granted total debt cancellation. The Banjul leadership need take note of an influential pressure group on the ascendancy demanding total debt relief in Africa. When the question was asked, a govt official put to me that a large chunk of the country’s debt is held with local banks, making it harder to navigate. But again, the country needs to wise up from financial indiscipline learn to balance its books. Please, wean off loan addiction – being the cause of much poverty and disaffection on the masses.

Finance minister Njie and his team got to buckle up big time realise the world is changing amid a global COVID-19 fight. The Barrow govt got to ensure that social objectives become central to any anticipated “summer budget” as part of a global coordinated recovery plans for the world economy.

Finance ministry officials as well as Central Bank of the Gambia, need show to a press conference shed better light on the administration’s position for the poorest poor in the country. While the president and his cabinet ministers indulge in tax payer funded luxury dinners, meanwhile, desperate families continue to face poverty struggles in marginalised villages. The government better show leadership come up with fresh cash money payment measures for poor families across the country – and quickly at that as RAMADAN approaches.

For the National Interest:

Gibril Saine

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