May 13, 2009, 7:16 AM
Muslims the world over including those in The Gambia are observing the holy month of Ramadan.
As a matter of fact, some businessmen tend to use the period to make more profits to the detriment of the poor and needy.
As Muslims, many would expect a drastic reduction in the prices of basic commodities to make the period more reasonable for the people, especially the poor and needy.
There have already been mixed reactions as to the current state of escalation of prices of basic commodities in the country.
During this month, most families are in need of support to cope with the situation of escalating prices of goods that are most needed, especially sugar and rice.
Going by one of our media reports, one would notice mixed reactions from the general public. Some of the reactions are enough to make one worry and to sit up with profound concern.
Workers’ pay packets in this country no longer match the rising prices of basic commodities.
Some are usually worst off when prices go up, especially so when they have no other source of income.
The month should be seen as a month of blessing, and thus the need to be more reasonable in business.
What most workers take home nowadays is not just enough to make ends meet. Those in need should also be given the necessary support. They should not be seen starving after fasting the whole day. Those with the wealth should always be in a position to assist the poor.
There is no doubt that the need for an effective supply and distribution chain for both local and international trade has created new opportunities and challenges for the nation.
The government’s strategy of developing open borders over the years, combined with generally favourable economic conditions, has resulted in substantial growth in the country’s re-export trade system.
This however seems to be stagnant taking into consideration the virtually high rate of duties and taxes on the re-export trade system of the country.
Though we cannot say the reason why prices of basic commodities are skyrocketing, it is our fervent hope that the way forward is to ensure the provision of an efficient, safe, economic and reliable movement of goods and people combined with a massive reduction of the high duties and taxes.
While it is important to mention that the economic performance of this country is raising hopes of a possible turnaround, it must also be noted that creating an enabling environment that prioritises an effective re-export trade is a critical pre-requisite for economic development and poverty reduction.
The business community should by all means be reasonable during this month. They should not see this period as a time to make profits.
“There’s no such thing as a free lunch.”