Gambia: Banjul Breweries Staff Protest Against High Tax Levy

The staff of Banjul Breweries Ltd (Julbrew) yesterday held a protest at the company's main gate in Kanifing, against the recent tax increment imposed on the company by government.

This protest comes after the company started laying off staff. Eighteen of them are already laid off. For fear of being the next victims, the staff came together to call on the government to fast track their negotiation on the heavy tax levied on their company.

The workers of this company could be heard chanting on top of their voices, "Let the government reduce the tax on our company, we want to work." Some could be heard saying "no to heavy tax on companies, Barrow administration no to heavy taxation."

Alagie Ceesay the President of the staff, said their main reason for protesting is to send a message to the government for them to fast track their negotiation with Banjul Breweries concerning the high tax levy.

"The management of the company has started laying off staffs," adding they have already sent 18 of our colleague's home. "We are afraid," he asserted.

The president of their union said every day when they go to work, they always ask of who the next person to be laid off will be.

"The tax levy on the company is high and it is affecting us directly." He added that, "The government is not fair to us." We want them to reconsider our plight and reduce the 75% increment, it is not rational when compared to their reasons for the increment," he lamented.

He expressed concern at the pace in which the negotiation is going through, asserting that it is slow. He said management is planning to lay off employees which will increase the rate of unemployment in the country.

"Some of the protesters are already laid off. The message the government is sending to the outside world is to tell them not to come and invest in this country," he cited.

Sutay Jadama the Production Manager of the company said he doesn't know the reason behind the increment from 10% to 75%, which he said is not rational.

Peter Mendy the accountant said "We pay different taxes; we pay vat tax, expert's rate, excise tax, social security benefits among others." He believes that for the government to decide to increase one fraction of the tax is not rational.

The accountant of the company blames the government for not making a good decision, that if all the taxes are added together, the total will be 91% and the company will be left with only 9% to battle with, 'which is not fair'.

He said it is the responsibility of government to create employment and not frustrate investors.

Borri Darboe the Country Sales and Marketing Manager of the Banjul Breweries Ltd said what motivated the staff to go on strike is their fear of being laid off as others.

"We are engaging the government and the talks are at an advanced stage," he said.

"We are hopeful that there is a window of opportunity". He disclosed that there is news of a similar company in Niger being shut down for non-profitability.

Darboe said their stores are full and their whole sellers are not buying the products from them. He noted that consumers are not also buying which he said is affecting the chain.

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