Sambujang Conteh, head of Raid, Gambia, made the statement at a news conference convened to react to the tobacco industry’s use of the scheme.
“Even some of the tobacco companies that are not within the Ecowas region also want to take advantage of this to shift their importation to other Ecowas countries like Nigeria and Senegal so that they can distribute their tobacco products in The Gambia duty free,” he claimed.
He said despite international treaties or protocol, The Gambia reserves the right to formulate strategies to cover the revenue lost in the form of excise and environmental taxes, processing fees and health levies among others.
“We want to appeal to the government to start working on these strategies since The Gambia is a tax-based economy and we cannot afford to lose such a huge amount of money,” he said.
He added: “According to statistics from the Central Bank of The Gambia on the 31st January 2014, the Gambia’s projected GDP in capital for 2014 is D33.7 billion and looking at the total revenue collected from tobacco products in 2013, it amounted to D172,745,977.41. On the other hand, the total health expenditure budget in 2013 was D571,086,101. The total tobacco tax contributes about 0.512% of GDP. We know that tobacco tax contributes about 30.25 percent of the total health expenditure budget of 2013. This alone is a justification for the government to get more resources in terms of tax from tobacco industries.”
Mr Conteh said tobacco use is among the leading causes of death with each stick of cigarette having 4,000 chemicals, 60 of which are poisonous.
“We are confident that the government of The Gambia will positively react to our request and make plans to have more income from tobacco products in order to save present and future generation from the devastating impact of tobacco use,” he said.]]>