recent three-day capacity-building workshop on tobacco taxation, organised by
the Ministries of Health and Social Welfare together with Finance and Economic
Affairs in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO), has shown
the global health agency’s readiness to help The Gambia to strengthen tobacco
taxation in the country.
Held at Senegambia Beach Hotel in Kololi, the workshop was technically and financially supported by WHO and was attended by revenue and custom officials, economists, health officials from finance and health ministries.
WHO provided a team of tobacco taxation and policy experts to support the training, which was meant to strengthen national capacity for tobacco taxation.
During the three-day intensive and interactive discussions, participants were introduced to new tools, protocols, models and best practices in tobacco taxation which, if applied, can significantly improve current tobacco tax structure and system in The Gambia.
The training was meant to build on current tobacco tax system which was introduced a couple of years ago by the ministry of finance with the support of the World Health Organization who initially supported The Gambia to review its tobacco tax structure and trained a team of economists at the Ministry of finance in Togo in 2012 on tobacco taxation modelling.
This paved the way for a three-year policy shift 2013-2015, from the traditional volume-based system to a tax system based on packet of cigarettes.
Yahya Manneh, deputy director of policy, planning and research at The Gambia Revenue Authority (GRA) gave a brief account on the new tax initiative and thanked the World Health Organization for supporting the country to implement the initiative, noting that since its introduction, revenue from tobacco taxation has increased substantially with corresponding decrease in tobacco consumption.
“Gambia’s tobacco taxation initiative has become a model and a success story not only in the African Region but the world at large,” says Dr. William Maina, one of WHO consultants who facilitated the training.
He said the purpose of the training is to strengthen the good work that The Gambia is doing in tobacco taxation which he said, WHO is proud of and will continue to support.
At the end of the training a draft three-year road map was developed to further improve on the tax system.