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Lawmakers reduce excise tax that nearly shut down Banjul Breweries

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The revised excise tax which will bring down the price of alcohol was approved by lawmakers on Monday at their first extraordinary session in 2019.

The lawmakers on Monday revised the “exorbitant” excise tax placed on Banjul Breweries that nearly forced the beverage company out of operations.

In 2019, Gambian authorities placed a 75% tax on company’s Beer, 60% tax on its Spirits and 60% on its Wine, an increase the company said is unreasonable.

After the approval of the 2019 budget which contains the tax hikes by lawmakers, the company threatened to shut down operations.

The country’s only alcohol company said with the tax hike that is now revised, they would have to lay off their staff and suffer financially to maintain operations.

On Monday, the lawmakers reduced the tax of Beer from 75% to 35%, Spirits from 60% to 40% and Wine from 60% to 40%.

This will reduce imports per liter of Beer from D175 to D135, Spirits from D280 to D245 and Wine from D249 to 210.

The finance minister Mamburay Njie told lawmakers the excise tax “came with its own challenges and unrealistic for implementation and therefore created and continues to create challenges in the industry”.

Njie said the “new tax was in no way an intended target of a specific sector but rather propelled by a growing need to initiate social safety net for the youths… from the negative effects of alcoholic abuse due to lower price”.

He claimed road safety has been compromised by drunk driving mostly by the youths. Njie said the revised tax was as a result of extensive negotiations between his ministry, Trade Ministry, the National Assembly Select Committee on Trade and the Gambia Revenue Authority.

Meanwhile, the lawmakers adjourned their sittings to Tuesday 30th of July when they are expected to consider a loan agreement with Saudi Arabia.

The Assembly will also sit on Wednesday to be addressed by the visiting Indian President.

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