The minister of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration, and Employment says his ministry and the government will continue to do everything legally possible to ensure essential commodities are available, accessible, and affordable to all Gambians.
Speaking at a news conference at Banjul on Monday, Minister Seedy Keita said: "My Ministry is aware that increases in food prices can have a major impact on the living standards of lower-income households, which generally spend most of their income on food."
Giving an overview price of commodities, he said the price of American rice has increased from D1150 to D1300; Sadam rice from D1555 to D1800, 20-liter gallon of cooking oil was D1050 but now increased to D1450.
"Price for a bag of sugar was also sold at D1400 but now it has increased to D1425," he added.
However, Minister Keita unveiled that more than eighty percent (80%) of the price hike in the country is caused by external factors that have gone beyond government control.
"The Gambia is a net importer of food like many other developing countries are now feeling the impact of the pandemic in the domestic market in a form of price hikes," he said.
He revealed that despite the external factors responsible for the domestic hike price "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."
However, Keita added his ministry has commenced working to stabilise the situation, noting it has conducted a diagnostic market study that was presented to the National Assembly Select Committee on trade for four times as well briefed cabinet.
The Trade Minister said his ministry has put mechanisms in place to lessen the pressure on consumers justifying that it has worked with Gambia Port Authority (GPA) officials facilitating quick offloading of vessels carrying essential goods.
Among other efforts, he highlighted his ministry's partnership with GPA has maintained a flexible payment plan for the business community in terms of allowing more time to pay for taxes and providing tax breaks to businesses struggling to generate sufficient profits to pay their taxes.
"With these interventions mentioned above, we will be in a position to continue to ensure that consumers are protected during this trying period of the Covid-19 pandemic that we are witnessing," he concluded.