Gov’t urged to create level playing field for all cement importers

Monday, February 04, 2019

Cement importers have called on the government of The Gambia to treat all importers the same way.

There has been cement shortage in the country recently due to tax increase to ‘protect certain factories’ according to exporters who called on government to create a level playing ground for all importers.

The cement shortage has caused frustration among building contractors and individual homeowners.

Alhajie Cessay, a local importer who spoke to The Point explained that they have been ordering cement from Senegal for D30 per bag as tax, but on 1 January, 2019, they were informed by custom officials that the tax has now been increased to D121.75 per bag.

Mr. Ceesay added that the Ministry of Trade informed them that the reason for the increment was to protect certain factories in the country.

Ceesay pointed out that there are no cement manufacturing factories in The Gambia, but rather a few who import both the cement powder and bags.

He further said that these factories only write their brand name on the cement bags after filling them but do not manufacture cement in the country.

He said they import cement from Senegal and sell their cement at more reasonable prices compared to the ones government is protecting.

He also observed that those factories that government is protecting cannot order enough cement for Gambians.

He therefore urged government to treat all cement importers the same way as they are all Gambians trying to contribute to the development of the nation.

“The Gambia is for everybody and not just a group of individuals and as such government cannot be protecting a few while harming the general public,” he said.

Yaya Jobe, who spoke to our reporter in a telephone interview from Farafenni, said they import from the ECOWAS zone while the ones that the government is protecting import from beyond Africa.

He said the country does not have the raw materials to manufacture cement and as such the factories the government is protecting import the finish product like them too.

“We have never imported dry or cement that could not be sold into the Gambia,” he added, saying the government should not be protecting a few while causing unemployment for majority of Gambians.

Author: Cherno Omar Bobb