May 24, 2011, 12:23 PM
The dust surrounding the controversy over the availability and pricing of sugar in the country seems to have been cleared, if the assurance given by major importers in this country is anything to believe.
The pricing and availability of sugar, a widely needed basic commodity, especially as we approach the holy month of Ramadan, has in recent months dominated the headlines.
According to information received, a total number of 135 containers with 72,935 bags will be in the country by this Saturday 14th August.
In the light of the urgency of the matter, especially as we enter the holy month of Ramadan, the Ministry of Trade, Employment and Regional Integration, in collaboration with the Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry yesterday convened a press conference with major importers in the country, who assured the public that sugar is available at a selling price of D1250 per bag wholesale.
"What should be noted is that in as much as we have problems regarding sugar at the national level, it is a global issue. Government is not responsible to set prices because, as a matter of policy, it is a liberal market," Yusupha Kah, Minister of Trade told journalists at the press conference.
Minister Kah, however, assured all that the government through his Ministry will never allow importers to hike the price of sugar, noting that they as a government want to be responsible.
He commended the Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry, through its new management, for what he described as their hard work and commitment.
"We believe that there is a shortage of sugar, and is already a global problem everywhere around the world. But I would like to tell the citizens of this country not to panic. There is a lot of sugar coming into the country. The problem is the transportation that makes sugar not to arrive on time," Hassan Akar from Gamfood Trading said at the press conference.
According to him, Gamfood, as of this Saturday 14th August, will have 50 containers of sugar, which is about 1350 metric tonnes or 27,000 bags of sugar coming into the country.
"We hope that we will clear these containers by Monday or Tuesday, and would put a price of D1250 per bag wholesale. I hope that prices will still go down, and the transportation and the quantity will come on time. Its out of our control, we cannot receive the quantity in time, because its in the shipping line's decision," Hassan added.
Hussein Tajideen of Tajco Limited said Gambians need not to panic as sugar is available in the country.
"We just want to inform the Gambian populace that let them not worry much, because sugar is coming. We have 20 containers coming this Saturday, and also by next week we have another 45 containers coming. As of now, the price we sell per bag wholesale is D1250,? he said, adding that he also has plans to open small shops to sell retail at D1250 per bag.
Abdousalam Secka, Chief Executive Officer of the Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry, who spoke on behalf of the Board of Directors of the Chamber, said the objective of the press conference was to assure the Gambian population that, in the light of the urgency of the Ramadan, through collaboration, there is sugar available in the country.
He commended the ministry in collaboration with the GCCI in addressing what is clearly a national issue that is of concern to the entire population.
Naffie Barry, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Trade, Employment and Regional Integration, said her ministry deems it necessary to sit with major importers of basic commodities in the country, especially of sugar, as we enter the holy month of Ramadan.
"We, therefore, thought it important to consult with the importers, and also let the general public of this country know what the situation is. We do not want chaos or problems to happen," she said, while urging the importers to consider reducing the price during this holy month of Ramadan, and also make sure that sugar is available.
Other importers including Shyben A Madi and Sons all assured the populace of the availability of sugar, at a selling price of D1250 per bag wholesale.