Gambia: 'Govt Working to Rescue Banjul Breweries'

7 September 2020

The minister for Information and Communication Infrastructure, Ebraima Sillah, says the government of The Gambia is working tirelessly to rescue Banjul Breweries Ltd.

In an exclusive interview with West Coast Radio on Tuesday, the minister claimed there was more to the closure of the liquor producer to just tax increment.

"Government is working around the clock to see that there is a rescue in this matter because this is one of the companies that actually keeps our tourism alive," Sillah said. "Tourists that come to this country enjoy the local brews."

Asked why the government would allow the Finance Ministry to skyrocket the tax that led to the problem, the information minister claimed there was more to it than just the tax.

"I think there was also blackmail in this thing. We know, I don't want to go into details because the government's main preoccupation is to come up with solutions, we know that there was some blackmail in this.

"These people wanted to even sell this, they wanted to even reduce their capacity to bring in something from Senegal. Here we know all these things.

"Our preoccupation right now is to rescue this company and if there is a solution we will go for it," the Information minister stressed.

Banjul Breweries, widely called Julbrew, the only brewery and producer of Julbrew beer and non-alcoholic drink has been shut down for about five months. Prior to the closure, the owners claimed they could not pay the increased tax imposed by the Gambia government.

The government's new policy which hiked tax from 10 to 75 percent was seen as unfeasible by the owners leading to the closure of the company.

Officials claimed they paid D132 million for the whole of 2019 but the new tax policy had obliged the beer and non-alcohol producer to already pay D97 million from January to April 2020.

Government of The Gambia is set to miss millions of dalasis in revenue collection while hundreds of Gambians have lost their jobs as a result of the closure.

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