8 March 2014

Gambia: Shops Closed As Dalasi Depreciates

Both men and women in business ranging from vegetable sellers, cosmetic shop owners, wholesalers and retailers , tailors, fishermen and fish sellers at the Albert market in Banjul and the Banjul beach fish landing site and some of th markets in Kombo opined that business is dull due to the depreciation of the dalasi. Some shops in the markets were seen closed and thoughts expressed indicate that the depreciation is behind the crisis.

In Banjul, this reporter moved about the length and breadth of Albert market and the beach side before proceeding to the Serekunda and Latrikunda markets to gather information from various business entities on the matter.

Ya Ida Marong who was seen selling vegetables like onions, Irish potato, cabbages, pepper and vegetables in Albert market, described the nature of their business as "hand to mouth."

She said business nowadays is not yielding enough profit compared to the past and attributes the loss to the poor economic melt down the country is experiencing. She stressed that women would not stop doing business because having something is better than not having anything, that despite all the challenges they are undergoing "the solution to this crisis is not in anyone's hand, but the authorities.

"I therefore urge them to help us out from this situation. I think we all know that the Dalasi is depreciating rapidly compared to the CFA currency.

" An importer of clothes and a cosmetic shop owner in the same market told this reporter that they (importers) are undergoing what he described as a serious time. He said they used to import clothes from Mali and it was easy to do so before the crisis started, but now it is difficult to embark on such a venture due to the depreciation of the Dalasi.

He added "as it stands, the value of the Dalasi is much less than the CFA. "Mali is using CFA as its currency, so if you buy goods from there and you want to sell them here, that would be the time you would realized that the Dalasi is weak," says this importer.

He further said the depreciation of the country's currency is affecting their business because the profit they derive from their business is minimal.

"Tax is also hiking like never before and this is what makes things extra hard," he said. He expressed concern over the situation and urged the government to intervene and stabilise the economy.

He added that if business is facing challenges like this, there is a tendency that the economy would not stabilise.

Modou Faal at the Banjul fish landing site also shared his thoughts with this reporter. He asserted that they often catch a boat full of fish, but they do incur losses when selling them.

He said they are dealing with women who used to come and buy fresh fish from them to go and sell it in the market, but they could not charge them extra as they have been working together for a while.

He said: "the women do complain that our prices are high, but our prices are dictated by how we get the fish and what we forecast they will gain from it if they sell at the market..

We also have responsibilities as family heads." He urged his co-business persons to exercise patience as he dismissed the claim that they are responsible for increment of the prices of fish and fish products in the fish market.

Lamin Fadera, a tailor at the market in Latrikunda Sabiji also explained how tailoring is affected by inflation. He said what they earn from their trade is minimal because their expenditure which includes taxes is affecting them seriously.

He added that many of his colleagues have closed down their workshops in different places due mainly to the hike in tax and pointed out that this could be a continuity for many people since the Dalasi is not stabilised. He asserted that the economy is affected by high inflation as one earns more, but gain little value out of it.

One Masireh Bojang who sells fresh fish at the Serekunda market stressed that if she knows other means of raising funds, she would prefer to venture in to them since business is tiring.

She said they used to buy fish from Tanji at exorbitant prices and re-sell to others. She added that this sometimes poses problems to them as there were instances when they incur losses.

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