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Gov’t to license importers, distributors, retailers of essential food commodities

Jan 14, 2015, 10:41 AM | Article By: Halimatou Ceesay

The Minister of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment yesterday said the government has come up with a new measure in the form of regulating and license Importers, distributors, as well as minor and major retailers of essential food commodities in The Gambia.

Minister Abdou Jobe was speaking at a meeting that brought together staff of the Trade Ministry and Ministry of Local Government and Lands, held at the Trade ministry conference room in Banjul.

The meeting was aimed at briefing the authorities on the new measures that would ensure fair and honest pricing of essential food commodities in the country.

Briefing the relevant authorities on the new government measures, Minister Jobe said they may be aware that President Yahya Jammeh had formally launched an appeal to importers, distributors, major and minor retailers of essential food commodities to be fair and honest in their pricing.

He added that despite the strategic importance of the essential food commodities for the socio economic development of the country, most of the players have not been responsive to the appeal.

This new regulation is commencing towards the end of January 2015, he said, adding that the government is issuing a license and authorization or registration regime for anybody who is an importer, distributor, and a major or minor retailer of essential food commodities.

The essential food commodities the new measures would involve are rice, sugar, cooking oil, onions, potatoes, tomato paste, flour, milk and chicken, he said.

These essential food commodities are strategic for the existence of the country and are of national security, because without being available, affordable and accessible food commodities the very existence of the country would be threatened, he added.

Therefore, the government has taken a strategic decision to have the regulation in place.

“The regulation means that if you are an importer of any of those essential food commodities or you are a distributor, that is, the one that buys from the importer puts it in a store and the people come and buy it from you to sell, or you are a major retailer and even the minor retailer, that is, the one with a small shop in the localities,” he further explained.

He said if anyone falls under any of the categories by the end of January 2015, he or she is required to get a license or authorization, or registration from the competent authority.

The Ministry of Trade would be responsible for licensing, registering or authorizing the importers, distributors and major retailers, he stated, adding that the minor retailers would go to their area councils and municipalities for licensing or registration.

The country has no control over the prices, he said, stating that the licensing, registration or authorization is free, and the objective is to ensure honest and fair pricing for Gambians.

Lands Minister, Momodou Aki Bayo, said it is the responsibility of all to ensure that the Gambian people get a fair deal.

The businessman does business to get something at the end of the day, he said, adding that “if you get something for D5 and sell it at D15 that is not fair.”

He added that at the end of the year, “if your records show that you are doing as expected, then your license would be renewed, if you are not doing as expected then they would not renewed the license”.

He said genuine earning is very important in life, and local government is the people, unlike other ministries, and their role is to sensitize people about the new measures.

The people know those who charge unreasonable prices, he said.

He, therefore, assured the Ministry of Trade that they would always be there to implement it to the letter.