A Gambian economist said authorities in the small tourist enclave has levied a 15% tax on foreign currency transactions with immediate effect.
The Gambia’s former foreign minister and diplomat Sidi Sanneh wrote on his block that commercial banks have received a circular from the Central Bank of The Gambia informing them of the decision.
The Gambia’s economy relies heavily on foreign currency exchange with tourism and remittances from citizens aboard constituting more than 38% of the country’s GDP.
Over the years, the Central Bank of The Gambia said the foreign currency reserve has depleted by more than 67% with the IMF putting in place financial and fiscal monitoring programs. The Gambia’s economy was hit hard by Western Africa’s Ebola crisis. Although it registered no case, tourists generally stayed away from that part of Africa.
Gambian citizens abroad sending money to their loved ones may see a 15% reduction in monies received via the many transfer services like the Western Union and Money Gram.
Although President Jammeh has been warned by the IMF not to interfere in the financial policy decisions of the Central Bank by imposing exchange rates, such a reduction in remittances received may raise eyebrows ahead of the country’s December 1 polls.
Sanneh, who is an economist by profession said the decision signals the start of Jammeh’s election campaign and that the revenue generated will go to finance Jammeh’s re-election campaign.
Human Rights Watch urged the international community, especially the EU to impose targeted sanctions on President Yahya Jammeh and his allies, and decried the use of public funds by Jammeh’s ruling APRC to fund their party’s campaign.
Finance Minister Abdou Kolley signed a loan agreement in Washington for USD $5 million for the development of an integrated financial management information system.