GAMBIA – The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said that after a review of Gambia’s structural agreements, it has agreed with the country’s authorities on policies underpinning their request for an Extended Credit Facility worth SDR 35 million (about US$48 million).

IMF noted that Gambia has built a positive track record of performance and advanced the structural reform agenda under the 2019 Staff Monitored Program (SMP).

“The Gambia’s performance under the 2019 SMP has been strong. Quantitative targets, including on domestic borrowing by the government and on poverty-reducing spending were met,” the IMF report said.

The reported also noted that, “the implementation of the 2019 budget was accompanied by strong tax revenue effort, improved expenditure control and debt management.”

The restructuring of The Gambia’s external debt is being finalized following commitments provided by participating creditors.

“Real GDP growth in 2019 is estimated to have reached 6 percent despite the temporary drop in tourist arrivals in November 2019 following the bankruptcy of Thomas Cook (UK) and a much lower agricultural output due to the erratic rainfall,” IMF noted in its report.

This strong performance according to IMF, reflected increasing competitiveness as a tourist destination and a strong private sector consumption.

IMF also noted the Gambia’s performance could also be attributed to an increase in investment supported by foreign exchange inflows, greater availability of credit, and a much-improved reliable supply of electricity and water.

The report also touched on Gambia’s economic policy saying, “sound macroeconomic policies will underpin the prospects for sustained growth, the strengthening of foreign exchange buffers, and the moderation of inflation which currently stands at 7.1%”

 In its report, IMF also noted that the Gambia’s 2020 Budget, approved in December 2019, is aligned with IMF staff’s projections.

The budget according to the IMF aims to stabilize the domestic public debt, building on a continued strong domestic revenue performance and appropriate tax policy measure.

The IMF team will submit, for the consideration of its Executive Board, a report on the assessment of the 2019 SMP and supporting The Gambian authorities’ request for a program supported under an ECF arrangement.