Minister of Finance, Mambury Njie

By Kebba Secka
The Minister of Finance Mambury Njie has on Friday 14th December, 2018 warned that any Government Accounting Officers who spends more than their budget limit would be held liable for it and surcharged.
“Beginning next year, any Accounting Officer who commits over and above their budget limits will be liable for the accumulated arrears and will therefore, be surcharged,” he warned.
He issued this warning while informing deputies at the National Assembly during the budget speech that ‘government has secured the sum of US$ 11 million to run National Social Protection Cash Transfer program in 2019.’
Minister Njie further urged all Accounting Officers/Permanent Secretaries to restrict their expenditure commitments for their budget appropriations for the year.
The minister said government will continue to reinforce the implementation of strict expenditure measures aimed at controlling the level of increase in the accumulation of arrears by ministries, government’s departments and agencies.
On the “National Social Protection Cash Transfer Program,” the Minister said it will be launched for poor and vulnerable Gambians. He also informed the law makers that government intended to increase salary by 50% for civil servants and 100% for pensioners.
The minister continued to reveal some of the economic gains registered during the year 2018, adding that fiscal position remains critically tight and required innovative ways to boost domestic revenues. “Currently, our public debt to GDP is about 88℅, highlighting an unsustainable trajectory,” he told deputies. According to him, this required to bring it down to a level that meets 40% which corresponds to the desirable position for a developing nation. He added that total public debt for 2018 is estimated at 121.3 percent of the old GDP compared to 129.2 in 2017. Dilating on the fiscal sector development, minister Njie said total expenditure and net lending in 2018 has declined by 19% in the first nine months of the year. “This is due to the significant decline in interest payments, loans and projects, grant financing of capital expenditure during the year 2018,” he told deputies. Expenditure on personal emoluments registered an increase from 1.7 billion which represents 3.6 percent of the GDP in the first nine months of 2017 to 2.2 billion which also represents 4.2 percent of the GDP in 2018.
“This represents a growth of 29 percent in 2018,” said the minister.  According to him, the growth was partly responsible by the increment in Transport allowance.
On the Monetary Sector development the minister said: “Net borrowing of government for the first nine months of 2018 recorded a borrowing position of D1.9 billion compared to a net repayment position of 1.5 billion in 2017. According to him, this was as a result of the shortfall in anticipated budget support that did not materialize in 2018.” The minister further told deputies that credit to private sector continues to register positive growth from December, 2017 with an annual growing rate of 28% at the end of September, 2018. “As at the end of September 2018, the stock of domestic rate stood at 29.6 billion representing 40.5% of the GDP and 1.8 percent increase from the year earlier when it stood at 28.1 billion,” he said.
On trade, the minister said government has already dedicated an area within the Banjul International Airport’s premises as a special Economic Zone in order to attract potential domestic and foreign investors to invest in the development of GIEPA’s Business City. “GIEPA has entered into partnership with TAF Africa Global Ltd to serve as the master developer with a view to attract investment in the designated area,” he said. On Energy, he said the Ministry of Petroleum is working hard to finalize the Petroleum Exploration Production License agreement including a template for the evaluation and assessment of qualified companies. With regard to NAWEC’s effective and efficient operation, the minister said: “The power rental agreement with Kar power couple with the completion of the 11 megawatt at Kotu expansion project has significantly boosted NAWEC’S generating capacity to 90 megawatt, meeting peak load demand from 65-70 megawatt in the Greater Banjul Area,” he said.
On Foreign Affairs, the minister said the government wants to establish Diaspora Directorate in 2019 to ensuing that the concerns or interest of all Gambia’s Abroad are incorporated in strategic policy and decision making. The minister added that in terms of foreign relationships, the government of the Gambia and that of France have signed memorandum of understanding to facilitate Financial Support ‘to a tune of 50 million Euros’ as a contribution to the Economic Stability for the implementation of National Development Plan (NDP) of the country. On Justice, the minister said government for the first time will establish Human Rights Commission in 2019. He explained that this commission will give Gambians an alternative and venue to seek redress for human rights violations that had happened to them anywhere in the country. On corruption, he said for the first time Anti-corruption Commission Bill is passed at Parliament and is expected to become law by the end of this year. Regarding the bad media laws, the minister said comprehensive reform program has been initiated to review and update the criminal law legislations and to repeal the draconian media laws of this country in line with International best practices. “This is expected to complete in 2019,” he informed deputies.

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