The skyrocketing commodity prices in Gambia has been a long talking point in many foras.
The country in recent months has experienced a daily spike in the prices of basic food commodities such as rice, sugar, onion, fish, vegetable cooking oil and palm oil. This undesirable situation is not only felt by women alone, who go to the market, but even breadwinners, who dip into their pockets to ensure there is food on the table.
However, the minister of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration, and Employment has said that his ministry and the government remain committed to do everything legally possible to ensure that essential commodities are available, accessible and affordable to all Gambians.
Minister Keita, was speaking at a news conference in Banjul on Monday. He revealed that his ministry is aware that increases in food prices can have a major impact on the living standards of lower-income households, who generally spend most of their income on food.
It is fact that the easiest way to bring a country to standstill is hike in price of basic food commodities. Food commodities are consumed by all, whether rich or poor. So it directly affects everyone in the country.
Could you imagine a bag of American rice, which used to be D1150 has been increased to D1300; Sadam rice from D1555 to D1800, 20-liter gallon of cooking oil was D1050 but now increased to D1450.
This price hike is orchestrated by few greedy businessmen, who sometimes hoard their goods, just to paint an impression that there is scarcity of particular food commodities in town. They do this out of sheer greed.
Government should take its rightful decision. We are not telling them to meddle in the food business chain, but if it is something that has severe impact on the citizenry, they should act urgently.
However, Minister Keita unveiled that more than eighty percent (80%) of the hike price in the country is caused by external factors that have gone beyond the government's control.
But not all the external factors are responsible for the domestic hike price, as there are other local factors that will worsen the situation includes demurrage charges as a result of the congestion at the port, the reintroduction of 20% reduction of the indicative values by Gambia Revenue Authority (GRA), the registration fees of FSQA by food establishments and some of the local fees charged by shipping lines.
To business community, let's ensure a level playing field in business. Let's create circumstances and not to capitalise on that to inflate our food commodities. Let's show sympathy and empathy towards one and another.