Tuesday, March 15, 2011

‘Gambia should not depend on grants to finance the economy’

National Assembly Member told Minister of Finance

By Lamin Jahateh, Banjul
Hon. Sellu Bah, National Assembly Member for Basse, has told the minister of Finance and Economic Affairs that The Gambia should not depend on grants to finance its economy.
”Let us work as a nation to ensure that we collect our domestic revenue to the letter to counter any negative response on grant,” Hon. Bah said on Monday at the National Assembly while seconding the motion that, the National Assembly should consider and approve the draft estimates of revenue, recurrent and development expenditure for the fiscal year 2011, tabled by Finance and Economic Affairs Minister, Abdou Kolley.
Tabling the motion before the parliamentarians, Minister Kolley said the national budget balance as at the end of September 2010 stood at a deficit of D733.6 million or 2.6 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
This steep nosedive of the budget balance is due to negative donor response from the country’s donor partners, the Basse NAM says: “I think this would teach us a lesson.”
However, at the time of presenting the 2010 Budget Estimates, the budget deficit of the year was projected at D298.7 million, representing D1.39% of GDP.
Hon. Bah urged the Gambia Revenue Authority to be very vigilant in collecting the revenue due to the country.  “There should be no compromise on revenue collection,” he says, adding that The Gambia is a tax-based country, so “we must do all what is possible” to ensure that the taxes are collected.
The government has been leaning on external resources to finance its budget deficit.  In 2009, the budget deficit was estimated at D100 million, or 0.5 per cent of GDP.  The full financing for 2009 budget comprised a domestic borrowing and net external financing among others, according to the 2009 National Budget.
Again, the 2011 fiscal deficit, which is estimated at D466.36 million or 1.47 of GDP would be financed by “foreign and domestic borrowing amounting to D833.82 million and D120 million respectively”, the Minister Kolley said.

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