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Tourism, remittances, agric tipped to strengthen Gambia â?s economy

 The recovery of Gambia’s tourism industry and remittance s from indigenes in the diaspora as well as a robust growth in the agriculture s e ctor are expected to play key roles in ensuring the growth of country’s economy,

PANA reported from here Friday.

The governor of the Central Bank of The Gambia, Mr. Momodou Bamba Saho, said at a press conference that the combination of these factors would reinvigorate econ o mic activities.

He said recent data pointed to a return to global economic growth which was supp orted by improvements in financial conditions and stronger domestic demand in ma n y emerging market economies.

This would imply that many holiday seekers would be more ready to visit tourist destinations like The Gambia while Gambians in foreign countries would have more

money to send back home.

These, added to a booming agriculture sector, would expectedly lead to economic growth for The Gambia.

The apex bank governor noted that money supply grew by 19.4 per cent in 2009, co mpared to 18.4 per cent in 2008, adding that both components of money supply exp e rienced increases.

He said the volume of transactions in the domestic foreign exchange market remai ned unchanged, while the dalasi appreciated against the British pound by 0.08 pe r cent, the US dollar by 0.02 per cent and the euro by 2.12 per cent in January 2 0 10.

Currently, the dalasi is exchanged at D26.95; D42.19 and D38.52 to the US dollar , the British pound and the euro respectively.

Saho said the banking industry’s overall condition in terms of capital adequacy, liquidity and asset quality was satisfactory.

In other words, no Gambian bank has risks of folding up.

“The industry’s average risk-weighted capital adequacy ratio was 18.1 per cent a t end-December 2009, compared to 33.22 per cent in September 2009. All the banks

observed the minimum requirement,â? he said.

According to him, the banking industry’s total assets increased to D14.8 billion in 2009, up 8.0 per cent from September 2009, while loans and advances to all m a jor economic sectors increased by 25.7 per cent to D4.4 billion in December 2009

from D3.5 billion in December 2008.

Saho said food and non-food consumer price inflation increased in January 2010, though annual average inflation fell to 4.3 per cent in January 2010, compared t o 5.6 per cent in September 2009.

â?On the back of increased economic activity, commodity prices continue to incr ease,â? he said.

He noted that owing to the stability of the Dalasi and increased agricultural pr oduction, â?headline inflation is forecast to be in the range of 3.5 per cent to 4.0 per cent by the end of the first quarter of 2010.â?

The risks to this outlook are the steady rise in global energy and food prices.

According to him, the foregoing has informed the Monetary Policy Committee of th e Central Bank to maintain the Rediscount Rate, that is the rate of interest cha r ged member banks when they borrow from the reserve system, at 14.0 per cent.

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