The Point (Banjul)

15 April 2014

Gambia: Operating Any Form of Monopoly Is Against the Law

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"Gambia liberalises petroleum importation", is the headline of a news report carried on Monday in one of our newspapers.

It went on to state that The Gambia government announced last Friday that the importation of petroleum products into The Gambia was now liberalised.

It added that a press release from the presidency (which did not arrive at The Point, even though it was a 'press release'), signed by the secretary-general and Presidential Affairs minister, said: "This decision is final and irreversible".

This is good news!

One could recall that some time ago, during the most recent fuel shortage in the country, we went online to find out about the companies engaged in the petroleum business.

We were astounded to learn that, at that time, Gam Petroleum Company Gambia Ltd was the sole company responsible for the importation of all fuel into the country.

Indeed, it occurred to us that this company was allowed to operate as a monopoly business.

We felt this was at odds with the letter and spirit of the Act setting up the Gambia Competition Commission, GCC.

And so we wondered how this could happen, when the GCC was mandated to prohibit, among others, the existence of such a monopoly in the local business environment!

What about some of the economic and trade policies often espoused by the government, which often claims to have created a conducive environment for businesses to thrive, and a level playing field for the private sector to operate, in this country.

Was the monopoly outfit then a case of ignoring the laws and policies; a measure of protectionism; or an arrangement to safeguard national security?

Whatever the case, it is our belief that the Gam-Petroleum monoploy on all fuel importation should not have happened, in the first place.

We, therefore, take the authorities' word that opening the playing field to all competent players is a "final and irreversible" arrangement.

"Competition is the keen cutting edge of business, always shaving away at costs".

Henry Ford

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