Gambia

Overview

Policy Watch

Gambia Monetary Policy Statement

21/06/2013

The Central Bank of Gambia has decided to increase its key rate by 4% to 18%.

Debt vs GDP / Bonds vs bills

All Data - Gambia

Year 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
GDP (billions US$) 0.93 0.94 0.98 1.12 - -
Total Outstanding Amount (Billion US$) 0.17 0.27 0.29 - - -
Bonds 0.00 0.00 0.00 - - -
Bills 0.17 0.27 0.29 - - -
Outstanding Amount/GDP (%) 18.23% 28.77% 29.51% 0.00% - -

News

Country Summary

Recovery in agriculture and healthy gains in tourism supported GDP growth in 2012 and 2013. Real GDP is estimated to have grown by 6.1% in 2012 and 5.6% in 2013 compared to a contraction of 4.3% in 2011. The outlook is optimistic as real GDP is projected to grow by 7.5% and 6.7% in 2014 and 2015, respectively. Inflation increased to 5.3% in December 2013 from 3.9% at end 2012, largely due to a weakening of the Gambian dalasi.

The fiscal deficit is projected to fall from an estimated 3.3% of GDP in 2013 to 2.5% in 2015. Tax revenues are projected to decline by 0.8% of GDP over the period despite value added tax (VAT)and other tax measures. On the expenditure side, a decline in interest payments on domestic debt, along with other factors, is expected to contribute to a decline in outlays from an estimated 17.9% of GDP in 2013 to 17.3% in 2015. The government needs to control domestic borrowing and provide for a consistent and appropriate macroeconomic framework. This will help to stabilize the economy and rebuild market confidence, as well as to diminish crowding out of private sector activity and to create space for development spending. The government should strive to maintain a flexible exchange rate policy and to tighten monetary and fiscal policies to ensure stability and preserve adequate foreign reserve levels.

The Gambia is connected to global value chains through two main sectors: tourism and nuts. Tourism and nut production are the main foreign exchange earners outside the re-exports sector. Though the country has achieved a relatively high multiplier effect from tourism, such returns are mainly limited to coastal areas. By promoting up-country eco and cultural tourism, the Gambia can expect greater benefits to the poor. In order to promote investment in such opportunities, an enabling environment needs to be created through land and river networks and information and communications technology (ICT) to increase accessibility. Furthermore, the economic environment of the Gambia is ideal for investing in cashew nuts. Currently, cashew processing in the Gambia is negligible. The Gambian cashew nuts value chain includes several different stages between the farmers and processors capable of delivering wealth creation opportunities.

There are 13 commercial banks in Gambia. The banking system is sound and only 7% of loans are non-performing.

There is no stock exchange in Gambia, there is only one Gambian company listed, the Trust bank Limited, which is listed on the Ghana Stock Exchange.

It exists a money market where the government Treasury bills are available. There are only 3 Treasury bonds available in Gambia.

The Debt Management Office is the main unit in the Ministry of Finance responsible for debt management. The Debt Management Office covers all aspects of the management of the public debt, including the design of a strategy for the national public debt.

A multi-year plan on the debt management strategy for the period from 2011 to 2014 has been issued. This plan aims to support macroeconomic stability through a certain number of measures, including minimizing the cost of borrowing, risk assessment and mitigation, and reduction of external debt, focusing on household incomes, savings, investment and development of financial markets.

The plan emphasizes the need for the Government to continue its efforts to restructure the domestic debt, focus on the development of the internal market starting with the introduction of Treasury bonds of 3 years maturity, followed by issuances over 5 years maturities in the medium term. It will be achieved by replacing actual issuances by Treasury instruments with longer maturities, depending on the absorptive capacity of the market, which will replace external borrowing by domestic debt.

Source: African Economic Outlook

Monetary policy & Public debt

The responsibilities of the Central Bank and the Ministry of Finance were set out in a Memorandum of Understanding signed on 28 September 2007. A Monetary Policy Committee, chaired by the Governor of the Central Bank with two high-level representatives of the Ministry of Finance meets every two months to fix the policy rates or discount and review of monetary conditions. A Treasury Committee, chaired by the vice-governor and two representatives of the Ministry of Finance, meets weekly to agree on the distribution and details of the weekly auction next week. Treasury bills are issued to cover the needs for both monetary policy and government funding or liquidity requirements. The Central Bank does not disclose the breakdown of the bonds issued.

The proportion of external debt in relation to total public debt was 65% at the end of 2012, where a significant interest rate risk on the debt portfolio. Portfolio of domestic debt consists primarily of Treasury bills maturing in one year or less, which is a huge risk for the refinancing of the debt. In fact, 75% of domestic debt has maturity lower than 1 year. The domestic debt to GDP ratio represented 22,53% in 2012 while the external debt to GDP ratio stood at 43,01% at end 2012.

Market Structure

Instrument issued and Market participants

Instruments issued

Treasury Bills (T-Bills): Maturities available are 91-day, 182-day and 364-day. The nominal value of treasury bills is GMD 2 500. 

Treasury Bonds (T-Bonds): Maturities available are greater than 3-year. February 24, 2010, the first 3-year maturity Gambian Government bond was issued for an amount of 50 million GMD. The minimum bid was GMD 5 million and beyond by multiple of 50 000 GMD.  The Gambian state has also one 10-year and one 30-year T-Bonds.

Sukuk-al-Salam Bonds: Maturity available is 91-day and the minimum investment is GMD 25 000. The state of Gambia issues Sukuk-al-Salam Bonds in accordance with Sharia law. The Central bank sells gold to issue bonds Suluk-al-Salam, to redeem at a fixed price in advance at a future date. 

Market participants

The Ministry of finance is the sole issuer of public debt securities.

The Central Bank of the Gambia issues the debt’s instruments on behalf of the Ministry of Finance.

Primary Dealers (PDs) is a group of financial institutions, mainly commercial banks, appointed by the Central Bank of Gambia.

Commercial banks are the main holders of Gambian domestic debt with over 60% ownership of the securities.

Primary and Secondary Markets

Primary Market

Based on the available data from the Central Bank of Gambia, the total debt outstanding at end of 2011 grew to GMD 9,4 billion. It represented an increase of 8,4% compared to 2010. The T-Bills represented 75% of the total debt stock. The government is trying to follow a debt management strategy of restructuring his debt portfolio from short-term to medium and long-term.

Secondary Market

Government securities on the secondary market are traded OTC. It's a very illiquid market.

Clearing, settlement and custody

Securities accounts of investors are held with the Central Registry of the Central Bank in electronic form.

Protection of investors

The regulatory authority is the Central Bank of The Gambia.

Guide to Buying Bonds

Procedures for market participation

A week before the weekly auction, it is published on the website of the Ministry of Finance, the details of the next auction.

For T-Bills, tenders above GMD 5 million are open only to specialists in government securities. Below GMD 5 million, auctions are open to everyone. Submissions exceeding GMD 100 000 should be a competitive offer. Auctions are multiple prices. In case of a successful bid, Treasury bills are issued at a yield equal to the price offered.

All bids below 100 000 GMD must use non-competitive bids. In order not to compete, the investor agrees to buy the securities weighted average yield of accepted competitive bids. In return, the investor is guaranteed to obtain Treasuries. Investors of non-competitive tender for their own account will be banned from competitive bids for their own account in the same auction.

Trading of government securities are done OTC. The buyer and the seller must execute the transfer form. The transfer form must be signed by at least two officers duly authorized to sign on behalf of the commercial bank whose signatures (one of which must be a class "A") are registered with the Central Bank.

Settlement cycle

Clearing and settlement of T-bills and Treasury bonds are made on the basis of T+1.

Taxation

Residents and non-residents are subject to withholding. Treasury bonds are not taxable. However, a 3% commission applies for their rediscount before maturity.

Rating

Rating AgencyCurrent ratingOutlook
Moody’sNo ratingNo outlook
FitchNo ratingNo outlook
Standard and Poor’sNo ratingNo outlook

Primary Dealers

The 4th of April 2006, the Central Bank of The Gambia has established a Primary Dealer System (PDS) for government securities.

Primary dealers up to date:

  • First International Bank Ltd,
  • Guaranty Trust Bank Ltd,
  • Bank for International Trade Ltd,
  • International Commercial Bank Ltd,
  • Standard Chartered Bank Ltd,
  • Trust Bank Ltd.

Market restrictions

Openness to international investors

There are no limits on foreign participation on the domestic debt market. There is no mandatory screening of foreign investment, but it could be done if there is suspicion of money laundering or terrorism financing. 

Capital controls

There is no limit on the inflow or outflow of funds for remittances of profits, debt service, capital, capital gains. 

Restrictions on FX and profit repatriation

There are no restrictions on the conversion of funds into foreign currency. There is no restriction on the repatriation of profits and dividends if it is done through the banking system. Most commercial banks in The Gambia now operate foreign currency denominated accounts, which were introduced by the Central Bank of The Gambia in 2001 to further facilitate international trade and foreign direct investment.

Documents & Resources

Documents - Ministry of Finance

Documents - Central Bank