14 March 2012

Gambia: Our View On the Gambia, Qatar Double Taxation Agreement

As Gambian Companies are being taken before a commission to inquire into tax evasion without the establishment of a tax review commission to know the merits and demerits of the current taxation system in relation to investment into the productive base of the economy, the Gambian people are told by President Jammeh that the Republic of the Gambia and the Gulf Emirate of Qatar have signed a Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement with a view to encouraging investments between the two countries.

A three day working visit was organised principally to sign the double taxation avoidance agreement. According to President Jammeh even though it was signed four years ago no investment came to the Gambia and Guinea Bissau in our sub-region. Apparently the reason given for the lack of follow up in investments is the claim that the double taxation agreement had not been signed. He therefore went to sign the agreement to pave the way for investments. According to the President Qatar as one of the biggest investors in Africa with more than US$2BN (two billion dollars) investment in Morocco , and almost US$0.5BN(half a billion dollars)investment in Mauritania .

The President is talking about half a billion dollars worth of investment. We have brought it to the notice of Gambians that the country runs a transit economy which needs close study to find out where wealth is coming from and going rather than nestle to boost the local economy. In short, the trade in foreign currency amounts to 1.6 billion dollars. The problem of the Gambia is the basketlike state of the economy. What comes in goes out again as swiftly as it comes in.

Lastly, we had drawn the attention of the government to the possibility for investors to be frightened by the way the tax commission is introduced overnight. Interestingly enough foreign investors are relying on their governments for protection against such tax commissions. Local companies also need protection from excessive taxation if they are to sustain investment for sustainable growth and employment creation.

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