According to breaking news from the Office of the President Yaya Jammeh, and in what has become a common executive occurrence, the office of the President, instead of the Central Bank, has interfered in altering the country’s foreign exchange rate once again, as monitored over the government-controlled TV’s evening news:
“An announcement aired on GRTS radio has it that the office of the President has intervened to regularized the rising amount of exchange rate against the dalasis. Effective today 4th May, no bank or individual should exchange the US dollars for more than 45 dalasis. The new trading rate for the dollar is put between D35 to D45. Rates for other foreign currencies will be announced soon. In the same vein, no one is allowed to take out of the Gambia any amount more than 10,000 dollars, pounds or euros without approval from the office of the president”
In effect, effective immediately, the Office of the President has forcefully “appreciated” the dalasis against major world currencies with $1 now pegged at D34 from D54, £1 now pegged at D50 from D80 and 100Sek now pegged at D500 from D590. Many Gambians in the diaspora are threatening to boycott sending money to Gambia, especially as prices will not be going down, meaning that you would have to send more money for your family to buy the same goods.
The above is in direct contravention of the “Memorandum of Economic and Financial Policies” sent to the IMF in April 2015 in which the Jammeh regime categorically stated as follows “We will fully cooperate with the IMF to achieve our policy objectives, and undertake furthermore not to introduce measures to compound the current balance of payments difficulties in The Gambia, including but not limited to an introduction or intensification of exchange and trade restrictions”, they said. http://www.imf.org/External/NP/LOI/2015/GMB/030415.pdf Many say that this is classic Jammeh’s modus operandi, which is to promise to adhere to any conditions to get money from The IMF, UN, EU etc and as soon as the money arrives, he will not honor any commitments like he did with the UN rapporteurs and now IMF.
The Jammeh government made a similar decisions in 2012 and 2013 around the same time when the predominantly muslim population were preparing for Ramadan. In 2012, the same office of The President launched “Operation No Compromise on Foreign Currency Hoarding” threatening the general public and licensed foreign exchange dealers against “speculative activities and currency hoarding”, as they forcefully ‘appreciated’ the Gambian Dalasi to all foreign currencies especially the Dollar and the Pound Sterling to some arbitrary numbers. This uncalculated and misguided directive generated a reaction from an International Monetary Fund (IMF) staff David Dunn in 2012, calling on the Central Bank of the Gambia to continue implementing the exchange rate policy for the country’s foreign exchange market to return to full confidence. On August 13, 2013 as Gambians prepared for the Muslim month of Ramadan, similar move disrupted the terrain as dollar and other currencies got pecked, and valid government issued foreign exchange bureau licenses were nullified. “All licences of foreign exchange bureaus issued by the Central Bank of The Gambia (CBG) has been declared null and void with immediate effect by the Government of The Gambia,” Jammeh said in a press statement.
However many economist saw this coming from reading the loan application above sent to the IMF in which the Jammeh regime admitted that their 2014 economic targets were “out of reach”, a consignment of groundnuts imported in 2014 was returned which means the government did not earn any foreign exchange from Agriculture, meaning that the depleting foreign exchange reserves as detailed in the IMF report have been further depleted, meaning that the former Finance Minister Touray’s statement that “Gambia will not be easy in 2015” was an understatement, considering the current economic crisis with less than half of the year gone in 2015.
Many Gambians eagerly await the response from the IMF as Jammeh’s actions have not only brought uncertainty and lack of confidence in the exchange markets and economy but has blatantly reneged from his promise to not interfere in the foreign exchange markets. Many Observers feel that the Banks have been too lenient on Jammeh and his antics especially as his regime lied before on a loan application to the IMF, which prompted the IMF to demand their money back.