In recognition of the imminent threat to the Gambian economy, the IMF last week 2nd April 2015 issued a press release approving a bailout for Gambia. The release stated that “The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) today approved emergency financial assistance under the Rapid Credit Facility (RCF) in the amount equivalent to SDR7.775 million (about US$10.8 million) for The Gambia to enable the authorities to meet their urgent balance of payment and fiscal needs”. The Fund also stated that “In addition, the Board was informed about the IMF Managing Director’s approval of a one-year staff-monitored program to guide policy implementation”.
This following President Jammeh’s claims in February this year during the 50th independence celebrations that Gambia will be food self sufficient in 2016 and thus there will be no importation of rice into Gambia in 2016 and come 2015 Gambia will become an economic superpower. Observers see this latest bailout as the IMF further enabling Jammeh to continue to mismanage public funds and oppress Gambians while entrenching his dismal tyrannical regime.
The release further stated that the “The envisaged adjustment and structural reforms, if properly implemented, would contribute significantly to addressing The Gambia’s present difficulties and achieving the targets envisaged in the Programme for Accelerated Growth and Employment. Such measures should also help lower domestic interest rates and thus alleviate medium-term spending pressures associated with the currently very high level of domestic interest costs. In light of the large fiscal cost of poor performing public enterprises in 2014, the authorities should promptly identify contingency plans to protect budgetary outcomes in 2015 from unexpected shocks. They should also meet their external debt obligations in a timely manner. Further measures, beyond those incorporated in the 2015 budget, are also required to undertake a deeper restructuring of the budget and public enterprises to put the medium-term fiscal position on a sound footing”.
Based on the above release from IMF and the danger faced by the Gambian economy, many expected both fiscal prudence and somber measures by the Jammeh government to ensure spending is curtailed to essentials, especailly as the dalasi fell against major world currencies, tourism down 60% and domestic and external debt continues to rise to dangerous levels. Many were therefore surprised when reports from Senegal indicated that following his victory against Balla Gaye during Sunday’s (5 April 2015) much anticipated wrestling match, Senegalese wrestler Eumeu Sene has been invited by President Jammeh and expected in Banjul on Thursday to celebrate his victory. This after it was also reported that Jammeh provided transport and money to many Gambian supporters of Sene to travel to Senegal and support him. Following his victory Sene himself said that, he spoke to Jammeh on the phone and he assure him that “he will never loose a match as long Jammeh is supporting him”.
Funding agencies like IMF despite stringent measures, are coming under increased criticism for their perceived support of dictators in Africa, who use funds like Jammeh does to host lavish musical jamborees, acquire houses like his $3.5 million mansion in USA, invite International artist with all the associate cost and continue to mismanage the economy while the average Gambian lives under $1 per day and the Gambian economy needing a bailout to survive.