Monday, November 24, 2014

GAMBIA: What's behind the currency reform

New D 20 note with Jammeh's head
In a recent blog post, we reported on how the Gambia's Central Bank Governor, Amadou Colley, went before joint parliamentary committee to prepare the Gambian people for the worsening economic news that will continue to befall them for years to come.

During his testimony, he informs members of the joint committee in a document stamped "confidential" that the regime was on the verge of embarking on an exercise of reforming the Gambian currency.  The reform was necessary, according to Mr. Colley, to improve the "security and durability" of the currency.

Reports of testimony was not carried by the official mouthpiece of the regime which is a sure sign that the regime is trying to conceal something from the public. Certainly, the fact that a new design of the D 20 note (equivalent to 46 ¢ American) that carries the face of the Gambian dictator was not revealed to the public.

The under-the-radar treatment of the new note is understandable coming from someone who demanded the withdrawal of currency notes bearing the face of former President Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara.  What a brazen hypocrite.  Whether the Governor of the Central Bank testified to this effect is unclear but what is clear is that the new note is the first to be introduced in nearly 20 years.

According to the De La Rue press release, designer of the new note, it is to commemorate "20 years of the President's rule" (emphasis mine).  It has a green background to remind every Gambian that it the AFPRC's currency and not a Gambian one further advancing the nauseating partisanship that represent the ruling party's ideology which signals the commencement of the 2016 presidential campaign.

This particular note will be the symbol of the campaign, should we get to the 2016 elections.  It is green and carried the photo of Jammeh which they plan to flood the market with at the detriment of an already distressed economy.

At the joint parliamentary committee session, the Governor warned, in advance, that the currency reform will reduce the currency in circulation in the coming weeks and months but he didn't why this would be so, especially if the withdrawal of old currencies and the introduction of new one are done systematically.  A regime that is not transparent in its dealings with the public is always viewed with skepticism and mistrust.

Currency reforms are usually associated with, and attempts to control runaway inflation which is what we think is also what's happening here.  It is also an attempt to fight the rapid depreciation of the dalasi. Counterfeiting of the dalasi is as old at the A(F)PRC, so, the currency reform could also be an attempt to stop the illegal practice which many have accused Yaya Jammeh and his cronies of being the main perpetrators.

We hope during its next mission to Banjul, the International Monetary Fund will seek answers from the regime regarding the overall monetary management issues and the supplementary budget of over  D 1 billion with an equal sum representing the size of the annual budget of the Office of The President at the expense of key productive sectors of an economy that is on the skid.