Electricity tariffs to go down
Friday, July 11, 2008
By 2009, NAWEC's electricity tariff will be drastically reduced for customers with a special concession to industries operating in The Gambia.
This was disclosed by President Alhaji Dr Yahya Jammeh yesterday in the afternoon during a meeting with members of the Association of Gambian Manufacturers at State House in Banjul. During the gathering, the association's president, Muhammed Sillah of Sankung Sillah &Sons, pointed out a number of issues hindering their smooth operations ranging from electricity charges to land aquisition.
This reduction forms part of a package of incentives government is considering for industries to enable them to expand and consolidate their operations in the country in order to be able to meet government's aims and objectives for the private sector.
According to Dr Jammeh, the tariff reduction comes on the heels of the major breakthrough in the energy sector which has been revamped over the past three years. He emphasised that government will give all the necessary support to the industrial sector saying "without industries we (Gambians) cannot boast of a robust economy".
The Gambian leader revealed that other remaining suggestions proposed by the association will have to get cabinet's blessing. He said that The Gambia has a lot of trade quotas externally which it is unable to meet due to the lack of manufacturing industries for such commodities.
Dr Jammeh said government will consider giving special concessions on corporate tax only if Gambians do not have the qualifications needed to handle a position which leaves the firms with no option but to go for a foreigner. He said the tax is being introduced to stop the employment of foreigners in positions that can be handled by Gambians citing the situation occurring in most supermarkets as a typical example.
Restriction on imports
According to him, government will only restrict imports on commodities made locally if companies are in position to supply the market demand and ensure that the price and quality commensurate with the imported items. He added that "in as much as we want to encourage industries, we should put the consumers (plight) into consideration".
The Gambian leader informed the gathering that government will create a new area strictly for industries. But in the meantime, he went on, SSHFC have secured an area from government for industrial development within Kanifing and potential buyers could secure it from the cooperation.
He, however, expressed dismay over the transformation of some sites in the Kanifing Industrial Area to warehouses in contravention of the purpose of the allocation.
For his part, Yankuba Touray, secretary of state for Fisheries, Water Resources and National Assembly Matters, said the formation of the association is timely as it enables the industrialists to form a united front thus helping them to achieve their aims and objectives.
He reminded them of the laws governing investment in the country which provide a lot of incentives to the private sector to enhance their operation.
SoS Touray urged the association to restart the stalled investment forum to enable them to discuss issues of relevance to their operations and forward them to government for it 'be willing' to listen to them. He defended the introduction of expatriate tax to curb the employment of foreigners at the expense of Gambians.
Abdou Kolley, SoS for Trade, Industry and Employment, gave a detailed and comprehensive report on the earlier meeting he had had with the association and steps taken by his department to address the problems and concerns raised.
Momodou Kotu Cham, SoS for Forestry and Enviroment also spoke at the ceremony which was attended by Secretaries of State Nancy Njie, Fatim Badjie-Janneh and the secretary seneral and head of the Civil Service, Teneng Jaiteh.
Author: by Pa Malick Faye