By Modou S. Joof
The Government of The Gambia has on Thursday unveiled the national budget for 2014 which is an estimated D8.6 billion to be derived from domestic revenue and grants – representing an increase of 1 billion on the 2013 budget of D7.6 billion.
According to the country’s minister of finance and economic affairs, Kebba Touray, the budget represents a growth of 13.5 per cent principally due to a 20.5 per cent expected rise in tax revenue and a 32.0 per cent projected increase in non-tax revenue.
He told the National Assembly on December 19 that these forecasts assume that there will be improvements in compliance levels as well as the implementation of new revenue measures. It included a budget support of D313 million from World and African Development banks.
Touray said the 2014 budget estimate for revenue, expenditure and development “will focus on fiscal prudence aimed at minimizing the growing deficit being financed by costly domestic borrowing.”
“The budget is anchored on containing the net domestic borrowing to 2.5 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) by the end of 2014 and to near-zero per cent by the of end 2016,” he said. “The objective of this policy is to contain inflation, stabilize the Dalasi [local currency] and to increase domestic savings for programme financing.”
According to the budget estimates, the total expenditure and net lending is projected at D10.2 billion, up from D8.3 billion in 2013 – while recurrent expenditure is projected to increase from D3.6 billion in 2013 to D4.96 billion in 2014.
Capital spending including externally financed, is estimated to remain at D2.7 billion in 2014 and the fiscal deficit is projected at D1.6 billion compared to the revised projected deficit of D2.4 billion for 2013.
It stated that net domestic borrowing, NDB, is projected to be limited to D933.5 million in 2014 and external loan disbursements to finance new and ongoing projects is estimated at D2.5 billion while the repayments of principals on external loans is planned at D763 million.
Minister Touray said despite global and domestic challenges including the international financial crises and the recent draught, The Gambia still remains resilient. He said growth is back to its pre-draught (2009/10) level of about 6 per cent of GDP.
This is driven mainly by agriculture and tourism, he said, therefore agriculture remains a top priority for the government.
According to him, inclusive growth, fight against inflation, a stable currency and employment opportunities remains the medium term goals of the government. “This budget is anchored on these parameters,” Touray said.