By Almama Kamaso
The Gambia government has a mounting debt of D58 billion owed to creditors and international lending institutions and countries, says the Director of Budget.
The Budget Director, Bai Madi Ceesay made the disclosure at Tendaba in Kiang Central Constituency during a training program for parliamentarians on budget, finance and National Development Plan. According to him, the D58 billion is equivalent to $1.2 billion; 52% of which is coming from external sources and 42% from domestic lending. These debts, he says, is 122% of Gambia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The director told members of the National Assembly that from 2013 to 2017, Gambia’s domestic revenue had marginally increased by 3.5% to the tune of D7.5 billion during the impasse and the donor support increased from 0.7 billion to D5.6 billion.
The current account balance for 2013-2017 he said was in deficit (net borrower) and there was a total net deficit of $196 in 2017 compared to around half of that in 2016. The Budget Director told members that regarding budget consolidation efforts, the national budget for the first time in the history of the Gambia was revised downward 1% of the GDP.
“The staff audit which was also carried out and for the first time including the army revealed ghost workers on our national payroll to a staggering number of 2,700 workers,” Ceesay noted.
“Another consolidated effort was the travel policy which now says permanent secretaries, executive directors, Chief Executive Officers and heads of AGs are now to travel on economic class and not business class. And there are also the rechanneled diverted funds from the gate ways, heavy metals, sand mining, and scanning fees.”
For his part, the Auditor General presenting on his role took the members through on what he was supposed to do. He informed the members that they are mandated to audit the accounts of government and other public enterprise accounts.
However, he pointed out few things which he considered as interferences. The training of his men was something that was difficult as his application to train some of his junior staff was always turned down. The National Audit director cited the recent impoundment of his staff vehicles as they were on their way to audit the accounts of the Ombudsman’s Offices at Denton Bridge by the police. He said the directives were that the vehicles were to be used for the presidential tour.