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The Gambia’s Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Hon. Mambury Njie tabled the 2021 Draft Budget on Thursday 12th November 2020 at the National Assembly with a record high Budget Deficit exceeding D6.1 Billion Dalasis. The 2021 Draft Budget estimates that D13.7 Billion will be collected in Tax and Non-Revenues while D22.2 Billion has been appropriated to be spent by the various Government Ministries and Budget Entities.
Speaking to National Assembly members, Hon. Mambury Njie stressed that “the central premise of the 2021 Budget is to build further better in an era of Covid 19 while reaffirming the Gambia’s commitment to the ongoing National Development Plan, NDP 2018 to 2021. As well as the Global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs 2030).”
He revealed that while formulating the “2021 Budget, Covid 19 has emerged as the single most important parameter and challenge to our development ideals manifesting among others the capacity to significantly and adversely affect economic performance and the outlook of various economic indicators.”
One of the most well-known aspects of the Budget Process is the Budget Appropriation which denotes how the various Ministries and Government Departments are allocated funds. In 2020 the total appropriation came to D21.3 Billion Dalasis for Government Local Funds only. This year the 2021 Draft Appropriation is in excess of D22.2 Billion.
Looking at the Appropriation, it can be seen that the highest allocated Budget Entity is National Debt Service with almost D6 Billion allocated. Last year National Debt Service was the highest allocated Budget Entity and that trend seems to continue. The second highest allocation is the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education with D2.8 Billion Dalasis.
The third highest is Centralised Services with an allocation of over D1.99 Billion and the fourth highest allocation is the Ministry of Transport and Works which has been allocated D1.96 Billion.
Expenditure Budget Funding
Although the 2021 Draft Budget Appropriation totals D22 Billion it can be seen that the entire funding of Government is planned to exceed D35 Billion Dalasis. The Expenditure Budget Funding for the 2021 Draft Budget shows that besides the D22.2 Billion earmarked as expenditure coming from Government Local Funds (GLF) there is an additional D4.2 Billion Dalasis expected to be raised from Loans while over double that amount (D8.8 Billion) will be raised from Grants.
Approved Budget Deficit 2017 to 2021 (Source MoFEA)
Budget Deficit occurs when the Government plans to spend more than it can earn. This means that the government will need to find an additional amount of funds from donors in the form of loans and grants.
Last year the 2020 Draft Budget tabled by the Finance Minister for approval included a Budget Deficit in excess of D5.58 Billion Dalasis. After Parliamentarians made some cuts, the 2020 Approved Budget Deficit was reduced to D3.86 Billion Dalasis.
This year the 2021 Draft Budget Deficit is in excess of D6.14 Billion Dalasis. It remains to be seen if the National Assembly will reduce the Budget Deficit like they did last year or if they will increase the Budget Deficit.
Revenue, Loans and Grants
The “Overview of Revenue, Grants and Financing” contains a detailed breakdown of how the Government expects to raise D35 Billion Dalasis in taxes, non tax based sources as well as loans and grants from donors. The entire tax revenue Government plans to raise in 2021 is over D12.2 Billion and the total non-tax revenue Government expects to collect is over D1.5 Billion.
Some D1.79 Billion is expected to be raised from Capital Revenue such as sale and rent of Government Land. A total of D12 Billion is also expected to be raised from Grants from International Partners. Finally, the Government also aims to raise up to D7.68 Billion from external (D4.2 Billion) and domestic (D3.46 Billion) loans.
What Next Before Approval
At the end of the first reading, the National Assembly adjourned the sitting to the 23rd of November 2020. Speaking to the Head of Communications at the National Assembly, Gibairu Janneh, I was informed that the various National Assembly Committees will scrutinise the Bill with the Finance Minister responding to questions.
It is also expected that the National Assembly’s Finance and Public Accounts Committee will also scrutinise the 2021 Draft Budget and produce a report which will be submitted to the National Assembly for adoption.