Story written by Fatou Jarju
EYEAFRICA TV: Banjul, The Gambia: Finance and economic affairs minister Mamburay Njie is expected to present the 2020 budget estimates before the National Assembly on Monday.
The 2019 budget anchored on limiting Net Domestic Borrowing to 1.3 percent of GDP. This was to be achieved through applying fiscal discipline to narrow down the deficit and control domestic borrowing. The government was supposed to continue applying strong fiscal discipline and prioritize investments in line with appropriate stabilization policies, but the public debt situation still continues to put immense pressure on national investment now and in the future.
Gambia’s economy is heavily reliant on agriculture with no important mineral or other natural resources and has a limited agricultural base. About 65% of the population depend on crop and livestock for livelihood but short-run economic progress also remain highly dependent on foreign aid.
Agriculture accounts for about 23% of gross domestic product (GDP) and employs about 75% of the labor force. Within agriculture, peanut production accounts for 5.3% of GDP, other crops 8.3%, livestock 4.4%, fishing 1.8%, and forestry 0.5%. Therefore, expenditure wise it is expected that agriculture will form a significant portion in the 2020 budget which is expected to generate revenue for the country in turn.
Tourism has a record of yearly improvement as The Gambia is also usually the first African destination for many European birders, in view of its easily accessed and spectacular avian fauna not to exclude the significant number of African Americans tracing their roots in this country. According to observations, government should capitalise on this gift, invest in and boost the sector.
The public expects that this year’s budget will also give significant allocation to sectors such as health, education, transportation and sustainable infrastructural development.
While the public didn’t see a significant strategic shift from the government in this area, there were a number of announcements which should at least result in a material improved budget.
Comments received from concerned Gambians call for a regeneration and decentralisation of growth not just in our cities but especially in the rural areas.