Gambia’s debt stands at D48.3 billion ($1.09 billion) greater than the country’s GDP of $903.5 million, the country’s Finance Minister Amadou Sanneh said.
The total amount of debt held by Gambians climbed in 2016 by the most in a decade driven by broad unserviceable international and high domestic borrowings.
The debt level, left by the Jammeh administration and beyond a dangerous point has put the Gambia’s government at a need of at least D12 billion to keep the economy going for the short term.
U.S. civil right leader Jessie Jackson has asked the international community to forgive the Gambia’s debt for the country to have a fresh start after Jammeh’s rule.
Gambia remains dependent on bailout loans from its partners in the European Union and IMF to pay its debts and protect it from bankruptcy and a potential economic meltdown.
By a variety of economic metrics, including growth and the budget, Gambia was performing relatively well — certainly when compared to the last few years when the economy shrank by a quarter and unemployment and poverty rates spiked higher.
The regional Ebola crisis and the political standoff that ensued hindered economic growth.
Widespread corruption and theft by government officials including former President Jammeh clouded the economic outlook.
The withholding of million of dollars in budgetary and development aid over rights abuses by Jammeh also strained the economy. Jammeh’s continuous anti-Western rants politically sanctioned and isolated the small country.
The EU this month gave the Gambia more than $175 million in aid, at least have of which is expected to help jumpstart the economy and create jobs for its migrating youth population.
Barrow’s administration has promised reform that could help the economy and generate income that can be used to push for further growth — such as through tax cuts or even spending increases.