President Adama Barrow on Monday 4th June, 2018 had a consultative meeting with major importers of the Gambian business community at State House in Banjul. The objective of the discussion was to have a dialogue around the prices of basic consumer goods in relation to tax incentives put in place by the government for importers.
Since the beginning of the year, the government installed a series of tax incentives and concessions, including a 10% reduction on import duties, to encourage reduction of prices of basic commodities.
Based on the foregoing, the President admonished the businessmen to cooperate with the government to find solutions to the price hikes of basic commodities in the country. President Barrow was quite unambiguous in expressing concern that the tax reductions, particularly the 10% reduction on import duties, have not translated into reduction in prices of rice or other basic consumer goods. President Barrow emphasized that the reductions ought to be reflected on the lives of consumer Gambians; thus, the business community should work towards reducing the prices of basic commodities.
It is government’s desire to ensure prices of rice and basic commodities are available and affordable for the good of the public, as evident by the tax concessions, he asserted.
Mr. Tony Banner, speaking on behalf of the business community in the Gambia hailed the 10% reduction of tax on rice as a good incentive for the business community. He, however, lamented that extra charges incurred from delays at the Gambia Ports Authority (GPA), among other factors, contribute towards the price hikes.
Abdoulie M. Tambedou, Managing Director, Gambia Ports Authority maintained that the GPA did not have any major price changes for almost ten years. The seaport charges per bag of rice was between D19.50 to D40.00 from the only four vessels between January to May 2018. He said that the Gambian import tax regime is the cheapest in the sub region.
Mr. Tambedou clarified that the congestion is a natural consequence of the increased volume of cargo and vessel traffic since 2017. Nevertheless, he added that the GPA is finding a lasting solution by dredging the Port and ferries areas at a cost of 1.50million euros, which is expected to be completed in 3 months’ time. This project will greatly eliminate the Port congestion and would double the capacity of the port for efficient turnover time.
Mrs. Naffie Barry, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Trade and Employment said the consultation with the business community is a welcome decision by government. She added that her ministry reports to government on the stocks which warranted the Government to reduce 10% of the tax on rice.
She, however, decried the high prices of basic commodities, most importantly, rice. She maintains that everybody expected the prices of rice reduced as a result of the decrease on tax.
Director of Press & Public Relations
Office of the President, State House, Banjul