By: Alieu Jallow
The Ministry of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment on Monday 19th April, 2021 stated that they cannot dictate the price of basic commodities in the market. This came in the wake of the mountaineering cost of food commodities since the advent of the Ramadan.
According to Mr. Seedy Keita Minister of Trade Industry, Regional Integration and Employment, the price currently in the market is due to the Covid-19 pandemic which disrupted global supply chains resulting in high freight cost thus leading to the over 100% increase since November 2020.
‘’The international commodity prices have been surging from April 19, 2020. The price of oil which is a determinant factor on commodity prices continued to rise from the slump in mid-2020’’.
The Hon. Minister further reveal that the barren of crude oil was at USD 42.3 as of November 2020 and in April 13, 2021 it stands at USD63.8 representing 50.6% increase and that The Gambia as being a net importer of food like many developing countries is feeling the ravaging effects of the Pandemic in form of hikes in prices.
The government has laid in a mechanism to curb the rising spike but despite external factors on the domestic prices of commodities, internal factors such as demurrage charges as a result of congestion at the ports exacerbate the situation. The reintroduction of the 20% reduction of the values by the GRA, the registration fees of FSQA by food establishments and some of the local charges charged by shipping lines are also contributing factors to the spikes in prices.
With all these overwhelming influences, government is left reeling with no option for the situation is beyond their control.
Gambia Revenue Authprity 9GRA) Commissioner General Mr. Yankuba Darboe said they have lessen the VAT imposed on basic food commodities to zero tax just to create a more affordable and cheaper amount of goods that will reflect down to the average Gambian.
The Ministry with various government stakeholders has met with the National Assembly select committee on trade to map ways forward to addressing the current dilemma.
The frustration in the recent spike of prices on basic commodities in the market has taken a somber move since the start of the Covid-9 2021. The Ministry of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment plans to launch a price transparent campaign across the country to create more transparency.