The Gambia is consolidating its democratic change by successfully organizing peaceful and transparent elections. President Barrow was reelected for a second five-year term in December 2021; his party and its alliance hold half of the parliamentary seats following an election in April 2022. A fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country in late 2021-early 2022. New infection cases have dropped to almost nil recently. The vaccination rate currently stands at about 20 percent of the adult population. The Gambia is already facing significant repercussions of the war in Ukraine.
Prior to the onset of the pandemic, The Gambia had shown strong macroeconomic performance in the few years following the remarkable political transition in 2016-17. Economic growth accelerated, debt vulnerabilities decreased, external stability strengthened, structural and legislative reforms advanced, and key social indicators improved. However, the COVID-19 pandemic halted some of the hard-won progress, stagnating economic activity and re-igniting extreme poverty. The Gambia experienced a third wave of the pandemic in mid-2021, which has receded recently. The COVID-19 vaccination rate currently stands at about 12 percent of the adult population. Presidential and parliamentary elections are planned for December 2021 and April 2022, respectively.
Ms. Marialuz Moreno Badia, Juliana Gamboa-Arbelaez, and Yuan Xiang
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, debt levels in emerging and developing economies have surged raising concerns about fiscal sustainability. Historically, negative interest-growth differentials in these countries have played a debt-stabilizing role. But is this enough to prevent countries from falling into debt distress? Drawing from a sample of 150 emerging and developing economies going back to the 1970s, we find that interest-growth differentials have remained relatively low, dampening debt increases in the run up to a crisis. But in the face of persistent primary deficits, debt service tends to rise abruptly—particularly in emerging markets—and a fiscal crisis ensues. There is also evidence that a large part of the debt build-up around crises stems from valuation effects associated with external debt and the materialization of contingent liabilities. These findings underscore that, though not necessarily a red-herring, low interest-growth differentials cannot fully offset the deleterious effects of large fiscal deficits, forex exposures, or hidden debts.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
COVID-19 has taken a severe social and economic toll, including almost 60,000 deaths. With over 5 million jobs temporarily affected, Colombia recorded its largest recession on record. Since 2020H2, an uneven recovery with intermittent growth has been underway, led by private domestic demand. Staff expects only a gradual recovery in 2021 with economic activity not expected to return to pre-pandemic levels until the second half of 2022. Vaccinations began in February with plans to effectively cover the adult population. However, both external and domestic risks remain skewed to the downside.