By Arfang M.S. Camara
The president of the Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), Edi Mass Jobe, has called on the Gambia government to raise a fund of D100 million to support small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), with a non-bank financing, in conjunction with GCCI and Social Development Fund (SDF).
Mr. Jobe made this appeal while delivering his official opening statement at a pre-budget consultation the GCCI, the private sector and the government held at GCCI’s headquarters on Wednesday and Thursday.
He expressed that the government’s support to the community henceforth should be cash based in order to facilitate its trickling-down effect on community traders.
President Jobe further appealed to government of The Gambia to waive all corporate and payroll taxes for 2 years to encourage investment and improve standards in the following areas: hospitals and health businesses, hotels and tourism businesses and agri-businesses.
“To compensate for this, government should apply a SIN tax on Sugar, to help fight the increasing rate of diabetics in the country,” he stated.
The GCCI boss equally stated that amongst their proposals made to government is an appeal to have big businesses pay the money both through tax and Social Security and Housing Finance Cooperation (SSHFC) payments by establishing ‘the club of 100’.
“Government should create an economic zone with Senegal for locally produced goods – poultry, eggs, dairy and vegetables etc. by respecting simultaneously, the common external tariffs and the ETLs and also to strengthen the Standards Bureau as an important pillar of fair competition and economic development, for health, safety, security and environment cannot be priced”.
He further encouraged a review of the socio-economic benefit of discrimination against the importation, in small sizes, of flour, sugar and cement.
He added that: “for us, the private sector led development is dependent on this consideration in this most important exercise of government -taxation and expenditure. I am confident that we would have meaningful partnership to make Gambia great.”
At this point during his speech, Mr. Jobe revealed the purpose of the pre-budget consultation meeting amidst the covid-19 pandemic as relevant to the consultation on the 2020 budget.
“We are cognizant of the existential threat posed by this pandemic to our individual and collective wellbeing both in terms of lives and livelihood.”
He took the opportunity to reiterate that with the advent of covid-19, the GCCI marshaled both finance and technical expertise to channel it to the health system, and that they galvanized support for the government and WHO led efforts in fighting the virus.
He added that in the preparation of the covid-19 budget this year, “we promulgate the NEW IMF, hoping that using the word IMF, the government would listen. GCCI is not only sincere with this consultation but also aim to broaden the partnership between government, businesses and the community to solve the problems of society.”