May 23, 2011, 1:56 PM
The current business Act and Regulation by the Gambia Investment and Export Promotion Agency (GIEPA) are deemed to be more focused on attracting investment than on promoting the growth of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) and encouraging exportation.
This lapse in the 2010 Act and 2012 Regulation of GIEPA was highlighted yesterday by the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Trade, Industry, Employment and Regional Integration (MoTIE) at a one-day Stakeholder Review of the GIEPA Act and Regulation, at the Paradise Suites Hotel, where members of both the public and private sector converged to review the amendment bill submitted to GIEPA by the consultant, Amie Bensouda, a legal expert.
According to PS Naffie Barrie, amendments to the GIEPA Act and Regulation were necessitated by the fact that this 2010 and 2012 business ‘constitution’ does not adequately address or focus on the growth and expansion of MSMEs and the promotion of exports.
“The current legislation, as pointed out by many, is biased towards investment promotion and raises concern about government’s commitment towards the other two areas – MSME Development and Export Promotion – which are considered equally important,” PS Naffie Barrie stated.
Considering the diverse mandate of GIEPA, she said, addressing challenges in all of them adequately in a single legislation has been a challenge for her ministry.
“Therefore the previous effort was not without gaps,” she notes, saying that some of the areas such as MSME development and export promotion have been considered “inadequately addressed” in the current Act and Regulation.
“Therefore in view of the integrated nature of the mandate, my Ministry felt the need to review the Act and the Regulation to ensure that all three areas are addressed in the revised legislation for more broad-based development,” she told a conclave of economic operators in the country.
“The Gambia Government recognizes the private sector as the engine of growth as stipulated in all our development blueprints,” she continued.
“The recent reforms undertaken by Government focus on policies and regulatory frameworks that enhance the role of the private sector in the economy.
“It is therefore hoped that the revision of the Act will capture the needs of the private sector in relation to attracting and sustaining both foreign and domestic investments, improve our export potential and extend meaningful support to micro, small and medium enterprises.
“In line with this hope is the realism that the support from Government administered by GIEPA is meant to facilitate investments/ businesses over a time period, after which such businesses are expected to be self-sustainingand growing, creating employment and thereby contributing to wealth generation.”
She also said that as a ministry responsible for private sector development and investment promotion, one of MoTIE’s roles is to ensure that “our business environment remains competitive and one way of doing that is by constantly reviewing our policies and relevant laws to keep pace with changing dynamics of the global business environment.”
The needs of the investors change with time and thus the need to keep abreast with changes in order to remain an attractive destination for investment, particularly Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), the PS for Trade outlined the rationale behind amending the GIEPA Act and Regulation.
She said further: “The Gambia Investment and Export Promotion Agency Act 2010 and Regulation 2012 are relatively new but the rapid changes in the business environment both here in The Gambia and the world at large is a reason for the review.
“The close monitoring of our competitors in the region by benchmarking ourselves against their performance and international best practice, necessitate the need to review the current Act and Regulation to ensure that we remain competitive.
“The decision to review the Act and the Regulation is also informed by the lessons learnt during the implementation, the interactions with the private sector and knowledge of what obtains elsewhere around the world.”
In presenting the draft bill for review by stakeholders at the workshop, the lead consultant of the bill, Amie Bensouda, outlined the amendments made to the bill, which include the title of the Act, the objective of the Agency, functions of the Agency, investment promotion measures, forms of investment, ownership of investment enterprise by foreign investors, protection of investment, guarantees, compliance by investors, types of incentives, and eligibility for incentives.
Mrs Bensouda also professionally responded to questions, comments and concerns raised by participants at the workshop, facilitated by GIEPA Board Chair Fatou Sinyan Mbenga, GIEPA CEO Fatou Mbenga Jallow, Gambia Growth and Competitiveness Project’s Tamsir Manga, Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry CEO Alie Secka, and Trade PS Naffie Barrie.
PS Barrie also thanked the Gambia Growth and Competitiveness Project and by extension the World Bank for financing the review.
“In addition, I must also extend my sincere gratitude to Amie Bensouda and Co, for the high level of professionalism applied in carrying out the assignment,” she said.