Monday, July 22, 2024

Trade tensions escalate as cement importers allege favouritism following hike in import duties by Ministry

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By Dawda Baldeh

The Cement Importers’ Association has accused the Ministry of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration, and Employment of favouritism following the recent increase in import duties on cement.

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They allege that the hike is designed to benefit local bagging operators like Jah Oil, Salam, and Gacem by obstructing the importation of cement by road from other African nations.

The association contends that this move is contrary to The Gambia’s pledge to foster intra-African trade and that this policy will lead to increased cement prices and a diminished supply.

They argued that the local bagging operators have limited capacity and do not actually produce cement, while consumers prefer African-made cement.

Additionally, the shelf life of the cement imported by the bagging operators is less than 30 days, compared to the Senegalese cement with a 90-day shelf life.

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The association also raised concerns about the broader industry and economic impact of the policy.

They believed that it would lead to job losses, reduced tax revenue, and higher transport costs for Gambian exports.

They argued that the policy puts the Gambia at risk of supply chain shocks and potential trade conflicts with Senegal, which is an important trading partner.

The association criticized the lack of transparency from the bagging operators, highlighting their exemption from import duties and other taxes.

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They claimed that the recent increase in import duties will lead to job losses and accuse Jah Oil of importing employees from Mali to run their operations.

The association concluded by calling for the resignation of the Minister of Trade, Baboucarr Joof, whom they accuse of favouritism and incompetence.

They argued that his policy prioritizes the interests of a single individual, Hamidou Jah, over the economic well-being of Gambians and undermines the government’s commitment to local employment, small businesses, and a fair market.

They called for the resignation of the trade minister citing incompetence.

The Fatu Network has contacted the Ministry of Trade through its Communication Officer’s office for a response to the allegations, and they have promised to get back once they have details of the Cement Importers’ Association’s press release.

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