Importers claim increase demurrage causes price hike

Feb 3, 2021, 12:08 PM | Article By: Adama Tine 

Importers of commodities in The Gambia on Thursday informed the legislators of the National Assembly Select Committee on Trade that the demurrage charges on imports is the only main factor contributing to price hikes of basic commodities in the country.

According to them, there is high demand on essential commodities such as rice, sugar and oil in Africa while its production is very low and the increment on the demurrage on trade in containers is about US$3000 to US$4000 respectively.

They confirmed to the committee that in the midst of covid-19 pandemic, they have series of difficulties in importing especially when it comes to shipping them to The Gambia as most of the ports in the Eastern part of India and Pakistan have to operate the way they were operating before the pandemic came to effect.

They added that before the pandemic, to ship a container of rice from India to Gambia costs them around $1600 but right now it is around US$3800-US$4000 and at the same time, factories and suppliers are not working constantly.

“We had a series of meetings with the Ministry of Trade and they asked us to produce our weekly sales, our weekly prices and our weekly stock levels,” they added.

They said that the fact that they had some stocks in sugar prior to the outbreak of the covid-19 pandemic has greatly helped, outlining that without the stocks, the price of sugar would have been higher than it is right now.

“Although we are trying our best to sell at the cheapest price and not to increase our prices as it is not in our favour in our line of businesses,” they affirmed.

They also said that the closure of business transactions and loss of jobs have immensely contributed to the factors affecting the rise of prices   in commodities.

The chairman of the Trade Committee, Muhammed Mahanera, said the information would guide the committee as they engage the stakeholders to ensure that the persistent price hike on commodities is reviewed and fixed at a reasonable price.

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