Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Number of Gambians defaulting in repaying loans increased significantly

The number of people who took various kinds of loan from the banks in The Gambia and failed to pay has increased considerably in 2013, the Central Bank of The Gambia (CBG) says in a report.

The ratio of Non-performing loans (NPLs), loans given to customers which they failed to pay back, increased significantly, from 12.1 per cent in 2012 to 19 per cent in 2013, the quarterly report, released on Friday, of the Monetary Policy Committee of the CBG states.

The intense competition in the banking industry has left commercial banks in the country rocking the boat of bad debts.  This is due to unprecedented increased in lending to both the public and private sectors, which unfortunately led to increased risks of NPLs.

Vulnerable to bad debts

The International Monetary Fund’s mid-2010 report states that though the increased number of banks in The Gambia helped to fuel economic growth.

However, it says increased number of banks has also heralded intense competition among the banks, which makes them vulnerable to bad debts.

Greater risk

The managing director of Sky Bank Gambia, Akim Yusuf, has earlier on said the incidence of loan default is greater and intensive than even the competition, as a risk to the banking system.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Monies from foreign donors to Gambia government reduced significantly in 2013

US Dollar notes
Grants to The Gambia, moneys donated by multinational organisations and foreign governments, had reduced by more than D1 billion (about US$ 2,632,000) in 2013, statistics from Central Bank of The Gambia (CBG) has indicates.  

The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the CBG states in its quarterly report, released on Friday, that grants (to The Gambia) declined significantly from D1.8 billion (US$  5, 260, 000) in 2012 to D725.1 million (US$ 2,000,000) in 2013.

The Committee has not given any reason for this negative development.  However, in 2013, President Jammeh abruptly withdrew The Gambia from the Commonwealth, and also cut diplomatic relations with Taiwan; an organization, and a country that used to donate to the country.

The MPC report states that provisional data on the execution of the 2013 budget show that total revenue and grants amounted to D5.9 billion (US$ 15, 790,000) , equivalent to 17.5 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).  This total revenue is well below the target of D7.7 billion (US$ 21,056,000), or 20 per cent of the GDP.

This steep difference in the targeted total revenue and grants, and the amount realized is due to negative donor response from the country’s donor partners.

Former National Assembly Member for Basse, Hon. Sellu Bah, has earlier on said that The Gambia should not depend on grants to finance its economy.

”Let us work as a nation to ensure that we collect our domestic revenue to the letter to counter any negative response on grants,” Hon. Bah said.

“I think this [huge reduction in grants] would teach us a lesson,” he added.

Domestic revenue increase

Gambian currency registers highest depreciation in three years

Gambian currency notes
The Gambian currency, the Dalasi, continues to be weakened and lose value against all the major international currencies, the report of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Central Bank of The Gambia has said.

The report which was released on Friday during the quarterly meeting of the Committee, states that the Dalasi depreciated significantly in the second half of 2013.  The currency was generally stable in the first half of the year though.

“As at end-December 2013, the Dalasi depreciated against the US Dollar by 14.8 per cent, Euro 21 per cent and Pound Sterling 14.8 per cent from December 2012,” the report says.

The report indicates by the end of December 2013, the Dalasi registers the highest depreciation in three years.  This is due to the fact in nominal effective exchange rate terms, the currency depreciated by 15.1 per cent as at end-December 2013; this higher than the 13.5 per cent, and 7.3 per cent depreciation registered in 2012 and 2011, respectively.

The depreciation of the Dalasi was partly the result of reduced foreign exchange receipts, coupled with strong demand owing in part to the high level of liquidity in the economy.

Gambia validates 6-year policy on blood transfusion

Stakeholders from both the public and private sectors on Friday gathered to validate The Gambia National Blood Transfusion Policy and Strategic Plan (2014-2020), under the aegis of the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare.

The development and validation of the policy is in cognizance of the World Health Assembly’s resolution which recommends member states to adopt a well-organised centrally coordinated blood transfusion service with quality system, based on 100% volunteering non-remunerated blood donation.

Pa Modou Jagne, the director of National Public Health Lab, said blood transfusion is needed in many areas of health in The Gambia, which includes the replacement of blood lost during birth, emergency surveys and those involved in serious accidents. 

Mr Jagne said half a million women die every year from complications related to pregnancy and childbirth worldwide. Out of this, he said, 99% of them are in the developing countries.

The permanent secretary at the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Dr Makie Taal, said blood transfusion has immensely contributed towards saving millions of lives yearly and improved life expectancy and quality of patients suffering from life-threatening conditions, worldwide. 

He said in many countries, including The Gambia, many people still die, due to the inadequate supply of blood and blood products.

Gambia’s economy projected to increase more than 7%, inflation to reduce to 5%

Governor Amadou Colley
The growth of The Gambia’s economy is projected at 7.5 per cent in 2014 while inflation is forecasted to moderate to within the target of 5 percent by the end of the year, latest statistics from the Central Bank of The Gambia has indicated.

The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Central Bank of The Gambia said due to the robust expansion of agriculture, and services, particularly tourism, the growth of the country’s real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is projected at 7.5 percent in 2014.

“This indicates that The Gambia economy is gradually close to potential,” the Governor of the Central Bank, Amadou Colley said on Friday during the quarterly meeting of the MPC.

Real GDP growth of The Gambia economy for 2013 is provisionally estimated at 5.6 per cent lower than 6.1 per cent in 2012 and the contraction of 4.3 percent in 2011.

Governor Colley projected inflation to moderate to within the target of 5 per cent by end-end December 2014.  The projection is premised on prudent implementation of monetary and fiscal policies.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Powering Gambia on solar energy can lower electricity bills

The use of solar energy as an alternative to fossil fuel can greatly reduce heavy electricity bills on Gambian consumers, a report by the International Energy Agency states.

The report has it that the development of reasonably priced, inexhaustible and clean solar technology will have significant long-term benefits for The Gambia’s electricity tariffs.

Solar energy could be Gambia’s predominant source of energy for decades to come and perhaps a lasting solution to the country’s energy problems, the report added.

It also states that solar energy will increase the country’s energy security, reduce pollution, lower costs of tackling climate change and keep fossil fuel prices lower than otherwise.

According to Access Gambia, an online information centre, The Gambia’s strategic location on the coast exposes it to abundant sunlight capable of supplying all the country’s electricity requirements.

Given The Gambia’s high electricity tariff, solar energy could be the obvious alternative as it will continue to produce solar power as long as there is sunlight.

No access to electricity

Thursday, September 12, 2013

West African accountants urge to cooperate with other authorities to tackle money laundering

Dr Abdullahi Shehu, DG of GIABA
Accountants in the West African sub-region should cooperate and collaborate with relevant authorities in their countries to curb the menace of Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing (ML and FT), said the director general of the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA).

Dr Abdullahi Shehu said accountants across the sub-region should cooperate with authorities like the police, lawyers, and other law enforcement agencies in customer identification, and record keeping and reporting of suspicious transactions.  This is cognizance of the fact that the fight against the twin evils of ML/TF required concerted efforts.

Dr Shehu made this statement on Wednesday in Banjul during the beginning of a two-day regional training on Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Financing of Terrorism (AML and CFT) requirements for accountants.   

The training, which is organised by GIABA, is being attended by accountants from English-speaking countries in the sub-region namely Ghana, The Gambia, Nigeria, Liberia and Sierra Leone.  It is meant to enhance the capacity of participants to enable them fulfil their obligations to adopt and implement AML and CFT measures.  Such measures include risk assessment and application of the risk-based approach to AML and CFT implementation.

Dr Shehu noted that if the expertise of accountants is provided to a criminal enable them (the criminals) to legitimatise their illegal funds through money laundering, the process of legitimisation of illegally acquired money in order to hide its true source. 

“It is therefore critical that accountants and accounting professionals are aware of and thus, are required to exercise due diligence and consistently monitor transactions of their clients to ensure accurate and meaningful disclosures of suspicion of illegal activity,” the GIABA DG said.

As financial professionals, accountants cannot afford to be complacent when it to being involved in the laundering or criminal proceeds. 

GIABA DG told the accountants: “You are expected to be on the lookout for possible criminal activities because, even if you are judged to have been unaware of the full nature of a client’s shady business, you will still be subject to legal or professional penalties at the end of the day.”