2020 budget estimates are underspent by D4.5b
Only D20b was spent by the Gambian government out of the total approved budget estimate of about D24b for the year 2020. These figures are according to the 2020 End of Year Expenditure Brief from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs (MoFEA).
By the end of 2019, Gambian Parliamentarians had approved D21 Billion only. However, by August 2020 a “Supplementary Appropriation Bill (SAB) of D2.845 billion” had been “appropriated by the National Assembly,” as detailed in the MoFEA’s 2020 Expenditure Brief. Even though MoFEA received this additional D2.8 billion, the government underspent by the year’s estimates by D4.5 billion, sparking questions as to why a supplementary appropriation was necessary when the originally approved budget was not even fully called up. Former Finance Minister Hon. Abdou Kolley however believes this is completely understandable. He explains that “at the time of making the request for Supplementary Appropriation no one could have predicted the government would underspend its budget, even though
expenditure tightening was expected, so the SAB is justified.”
Ministry of Health overspends by D497m
The impact of the Coronavirus Pandemic is reflected in the huge overspend from the Ministry of Health by a whopping D497 million. A look at the individual budget lines shows that the Ministry of Health overspent its estimates by almost half a billion Dalasis. In August 2020 the National Assembly approved an additional supplementary of D250 Million to the Ministry of Health’s budget (D1.5 billion) to combat the Coronavirus Pandemic.
The 2020 Expenditure Brief indicates that the Ministry of Health spent D2.3 billion instead of the Approved Revised Budget of D1.8 billion. This represents an overspend of
128%. Speaking on the overspend in Health, Hon Kolley explains that “even with the SAB which increased health and other budget lines, some of these are still overspend, which could not have been addressed through virement, further justifying the SAB”.
However, it can be recalled that National Assembly members had requested for the Finance Minister, Hon Mambury Njie to consider a Revised Budget entirely, perhaps this would have avoided the need for a SAB. Hon Abdou Kolley disagrees that this would have addressed the problem given that it would have been difficult to envisage at the time. In actual Dalasis, Centralized Services was the second highest overspend, with over D2.5 billion spent instead of D2.3 billion. However, in percentage terms only the
The Ministry of Health ranks higher than the Ministry of Communications which overspent by 114% followed by Centralised Services with 109%.
IEC & NAO spend less than 50% of the approved budget
On the other end of the scale are budget lines which underspent the most, led by Debt Service where a whopping D3.7 Billion was saved. Although the government planned to repay almost D9 billion in 2020
only D4.2 billion of debt was paid in 2020. Debt Service actually ranks as 5th underspend in terms of percentage underspend. Raising questions on the government’s underspend in debt service, Hon Kolley
listed issues such as “debt deferral, debt cancellation, overbudgeting or payment default/missed deadlines” as factors that could explain the “huge savings”. Perhaps more concerning is the low
expenditure by the Ministry of Agriculture during the pandemic which saw increases in the cost of food and transportation. It would have been prudent to commit more investment to agriculture to alleviate some of the negative impacts of the pandemic on the country’s Food Security situation. The “5 lowest underspent budget lines” include the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare and the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change which are both joint 3rd and 4th (51%).
Published on June 4, 2021