Issued 6 June 2018
M. Tambedou, managing director, Gambia Ports Authority has revealed that a
total of 43,000 tonnes of rice have been imported into the country according to
data from GPA Traffic Department.
However, despite this “impressive traffic figures”, the GPA did not have any major price changes for charges levied on import of rice in almost ten years. This figure came up during discussions convened by President Adama Barrow with members of the business community at the State House on Monday.
“The seaport charges per bag of rice were between D19.50 to D40.00 from four vessels between January to May 2018. This,” the GPA manager said, “is among the cheapest in the sub region.”
However, because the volume of cargo and vessel traffic have increased at the seaport since 2017, congestion would be a normal situation as the facilities have remained the same, Mr. Tambedou explained, adding that the GPA is dredging the Port and ferries areas at a cost of Euros 1.50million to be completed in the next 3 months.
“This project will greatly eliminate the Port congestion and would double the capacity of the port for efficient turnover time,” he explained in response to queries from the members of the community that delays at the seaport to clear their goods causes additional increase on the prices of rice and some other basic commodities.
The president told the gathering that the consultative meeting was meant to find solutions to the price hikes of basic commodities, particularly rice, since the 10% reduction in import duties has not translated to reduction in prices of rice or other basic consumer goods.
According to President Barrow, it is Gambia government’s desire to see prices of rice and basic commodities are available and affordable to the public. Hence the 10% reduction is a clear indication of government’s interest.
President Barrow emphasized that the 10% reduction ought to be reflected on the lives of the consumer Gambians, hence the business community should work towards reducing the prices of basic commodities.
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, lamented the price hikes of basic commodities most importantly, rice. Maintaining that everybody expected the prices of rice reduced as a result of the decrease on tax.