Gambia: GCCI President Calls for Elimination of Trade Barriers

9 January 2020

The president of The Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GGCI) has renewed calls for Africa to embrace the continental free trade and do away with trade barriers.

Advocating for the signing of the continental free trade agreement pact in 2019, he said, has been one of the achievements made by the GCCI in the past year.

Edi Mass Jobe, who was speaking recently during an exclusive interview with The Point at his office, dwelled on a wide range of areas made by the GCCI in the past year.

Mr Jobe however, underscored the importance of taxes in any booming economy, describing tax as a driver to any meaningful development.

He indicated that the monies collected from the taxpayers are always ploughed back to communities in the form of development programmes.

GCCI boss also reiterated the need for big business companies to honour their tax obligations, adding that company should be judged for fulfilling their tax obligations. This, he said, would also enable government to initiative meaningful developments project and better the lives of people.

"Payment of taxes should be made transparent and the media should make follow ups every month. This is to hold government officials accountable. Also, we need to set example to business operators who defaulted to pay what is due to them in taxes".

The Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry, he said, is now more involved in ensuring that members also pay taxes so that the government and the community can be very strong.

For GCCI boss, a good business should be measured by the amount of tax that they are paying and also the number of people they have employed.

"I am very happy that the newly established Network of Financial and Tax Reporters will create more awareness about people on taxes and its related areas. At the GCCI this year 2019, the biggest elephant in the room is the African continental free trade that was signed. We think at the level of GCCI this African continental free trade was meant for The Gambia, Senegal and ECOWAS region ".

Mr Jobe outlined the need for people to focus on this matters rather than talking about relationship and economy between Senegal and The Gambia. We should be focused to be better enhance our free trade between our sub region and ensure less barriers on our roads. The chamber organized the Senegambia Economic Forum.

At this forum, he said they also identified some of the areas and the biggest was the unnecessary trade barriers or stops at the check points between The Gambia and Senegal.

"One of the recommendations in 2020 is to remove all trade barriers and allow free flow of people without having to encounter unnecessary check points. We don't understand why an army officer is posted on the roads to stop asking for papers or 'Attayaa'. So we think that government should look into these matters ".

He maintained that another area of great importance is the free movement of goods and people, saying 'we think that Gambians have to be courageous. And we blame Senegal for not accepting or allowing goods from the Gambia."

Mr Jobe highlighted numerous chicken businesses that are run in Senegal at their backyard or on top of their room unlike in the Gambia.

He said in Senegal many farmers are engaged in chicken production, while it is a different scenario in The Gambia as our farmers cannot even sell it with the 30-40 dalasi legs coming from Brazil.

"What we are calling for is that we have a common tariff levy on chicken at the border to determine the price of chickens. This also discourages high importation of chicken in order to create better job opportunity for the Gambian youths".

He maintained that our land should be auctioned rather than making it free of charges, adding that there is need for government to consider Gambians in the Diaspora especially those who want to buy lands to have land documents within 24hours.

According to him, a successful company is led by an effective and entrepreneurial board, whose role is to promote the long term sustainable success of the company, generate value for shareholders thereby contributing to wider society.

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