- Executive board of International Monetary Fund (IMF) has completed the third review of The Gambia's performance under a program supported by a three-year Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF) arrangement.
Completion of the review allows for disbursement of SDR 2 million (about US$3.1 million), which would bring total disbursements under the arrangement to SDR 8 million (about US$12.4 million) to The Gambia.
PRGF is IMF's concessional facility for low-income countries. PRGF loans carry an annual interest rate of 0.5 percent and are repayable over 10 years with a 5½-year grace period on principal payments.
IMF's executive board also approved the authorities' request for waivers of nonobservance of four structural performance criteria concerning submission of two special audit reports, making operational of a credit reference bureau, and establishment of a central register of fiscal expenditure commitments.
Arrangement with The Gambia was approved on February 21, 2007 for an amount of SDR 14 million (about US$21.7 million).
Following the Executive Board's discussion, Mr Takatoshi Kato, Deputy Managing Director and Acting Chair, said: "The Gambian authorities are to be commended for maintaining macroeconomic stability in the context of robust growth and moderate inflation. The PRGF-supported economic program has been implemented satisfactorily, despite the recent increases in world food and fuel prices.
"Over the medium term, The Gambia will face the challenge of maintaining strong growth while further reducing poverty and attaining the Millennium Development Goals. To this end, the authorities are committed to promoting fiscal discipline, private sector growth, and investment in infrastructure, education, and health. The authorities are advised to consider steps to improve The Gambia's international competitiveness through measures to improve the business climate, such as alleviating the burden of central and local government taxation on businesses."
He concluded by commending The Gambia saying it has made strong and successful efforts to improve revenues, in particular through improvements in tax administration.
Mr Kato said Gambian authorities recognise need to focus on broadening tax base and making it more buoyant, including by reducing scope of import duty exemptions. "Making further progress in strengthening public financial management will also help to ensure that budget formulation is realistic and in line with priorities in the country's Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP)," he said.
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