By Yusef Taylor, @FlexDan_YT
According to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs (MoFEA) January to end of June 2023 Expenditure Brief, the country has spent 53% of the 2023 Approved Budget by the end of the first six months. The expenditure brief details government expenditure on all Government Local Funds (GLF) which means it “does not factor [in] any donor-sourced funding including external loans and donor project grants”.
In the 2023 Approved Budget, the total GLF approved for Government Expenditure was D22.06 billion while the total of GLF, Loans and Grants came to D38.8 billion. This means all loans and grants totalled approximately D16.79 billion. Meanwhile, the government estimated it would collect D33.2 billion in all revenues (D16.89 billion) and grants (D16.32 billion).
Looking at the total amount of the budget spent over the first 6 months which totals over D11 billion, this means that the Gambia spends just below D2 billion every month. Over the years the Gambia Revenue Authority (GRA) usually collects over D1 billion per month. A report from the Voice Newspaper revealed that GRA collected over D1.2 billion in Tax Revenues for the month of January 2023. In an exclusive interview with Coffee Time, the GRA Governor stated that they had collected a record D1.5 billion for the month of March 2023.
In an attempt to limit expenditure the government recently placed a travel ban on all Civil Servants pending approval from the Office of the President or a designated office. The midway expenditure brief shows that over the first half of 2023, the government spent a total of almost D169 million out of the 2023 approved amount of D279 million on Travel. This equates to 61% of the 2023 Approved Budget line for the entire year for this activity.
According to the MoFEA’s Expenditure Brief, Input subsidy which was budgeted to spend D400 million ended up spending over D557 million by the first half of the year translating to 139% of the budget line spent for the year. This means that the government has overspent its entire amount for the year on this Budget Line. The MoFEA’s Expenditure Brief notes that “the reason for the huge variance under the Ministry of Agriculture is that; Input Subsidy is now expensed by the Ministry of Agriculture though it was initially budgeted under the Centralized Services”.
All other expenditures in the top spending budget lines are below 100% which means they have not spent above the 2023 approved amount so far. This includes expenditures on electricity, water and sewage by 96%, purchase of fuel by 64% and subvention by 63%. These top spending lines are closely followed by Travel and Debt Services.
A closer look at subvention shows the Budget Lines which the government has decided to subvent. From January to June 2023, the Government has spent over D2.3 billion on subvention out of the approved D3.7 billion. Ministries and government institutions subvented are shown in the table below which include The Office of the President (D76 million), Ministry of Foreign Affairs (D208 million), Ministry of Finance (D403 million), Ministry of Agriculture (D588 million), MoBSE (D365 million) and MoHSW (D468 million).
Turning our attention to Budget Entities, the highest spending lines are the Ministry of Agriculture with 95% of its approved amount spent by the first six months followed by the Independent Electoral Commission (89%) which conducted two elections this year and Centralized Services (84%). The MoFEA’s report also notes that just “like May, Personnel Emoluments and Debt Service came out as the top expenditure classes with both consuming 55% and 57% during the period, respectively”. Personnel Emoluments cuts across all sectors as they refer to Salaries, Allowances, Staff Loans and other incentives.
Some of the notable high-expenditure budget lines include the Office of the President with a modest 55%, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (58%), the National Debt Service (57%) and the MoBSE (54%).
The Expenditure Brief continues to demonstrate that a large chunk of The Gambia’s expenditure goes to the National Debt Service. In fact, the Gambia has already spent over D2.4 billion of the total D4.3 Billion it plans to spend on Debt Service. A closer inspection shows that Debt Service grew by 7% from 2022 to 2023. In 2022 from January to June the Gambia had spent D2.3 billion, which was over D100 Million less. The MoFEA Brief explains that increases in Debt Service “can be attributed to the drastic increase of interest rate on short-term instruments”.
It goes without saying that the Government has been investing significantly in Capital Development with a significant amount of road construction taking place. However, the MoFEA Brief highlights that “Capital Development has decreased substantially from GMD 2.16 billion last year to GMD 1.34 billion this year, representing a 38% fall in spending” from Jan to June 2022 as compared to January to June 2023.