By Ramatoulie Jawo
The Mayor of Kanifing Municipality Council, Talib Ahmed Bensouda, on Tuesday told members of the National Assembly Finance and Public Accounts Committee that a lot of revenue has been taken from the councils when the tourism board act was enacted.
“A lot of revenues were taken from the councils when the tourism board act was created. With the demarcation of the Tourist Development Area (TDA), the tourism board is now collecting all licenses within the TDA when our act says every business within our jurisdiction must pay us. So, we have a problem where a business will say I will not pay to KMC because I have already paid to the Gambia Tourism Board, so these are all issues,” He stated.
Mayor Bensouda further lamented on car park fees, saying KMC has more vehicles registered or plying the roads than any other region except for the West Coast Region, but took issue with the way the fees collected are divided amongst municipalities.
“But the government is collecting the fees on our behalf and sharing equally amongst regions, which we also think is not fair because the number of garages we need to create, the number of facilities we need to create are, of course, way more than the other regions,” he pleaded.
He touched on the Billboard fees and how the council does not get to collect any fees on the boards that are in its jurisdiction.
“They were taken from the council, and now they are collected by the National Road Authority (NRA). The Council’s ability to collect is extremely limited,” he said.
Mayor Bensouda also touched on the lack of notification the council runs into when properties are sold or change hands.
“When properties are sold, we are not notified (council). So, you come to a property with a certain name, and then you will realize that it’s sold to somebody else, and it becomes difficult to collect. And now in KMC, most people are renting out their properties because of the high values, and we used to meet tenants which also is a challenge to collect, but it all comes down to enforcement,” said Mayor Bensouda.
He added that they once wrote to the ministry saying that the transactions should really start at the council level, and then it can end at the ministry.
“For Example, if you want to build, and you want a building permit, I think the council should first be notified and also give out our clearance base on zoning law or our urban Development plans before you can finally get your approval from the ministry. If you are selling a property, I think we should give some sort of clearance. That is why Alkalos are under the council. So, we can be notified so that we change and update our database before you can finalize the transactions, but we wrote a letter, and we are never responded to,” he said.
Honorable Mboow, a member of the committee, suggested that as a committee, they should find a way as part of their recommendations just to ensure that the council has all the information that is required for them to have a proper database.
“I know the business in KMC because I have a business in KMC. I know if you want to do business with the government, there are certain requirements you should have.
“First they will tell you to get clearance from GPPA before they will give you clearance, two they have to get you to get a clearance from GRA. So, for me, I think they should put in a third layer, which is a clearance from KMC, to state that you will be paying. So, I think we should capture that in our recommendations, otherwise it will be difficult for them, and they are going to lose a lot of revenue,” He suggested