By Alagie Manneh
In the not-too-distant future, members of the National Assembly will investigate the motive and purpose behind the introduction of the highly controversial and much-criticised airport security levy system as well as make a decision on what should be done about the issue, the NAM for Latrikunda Sabiji, Yaya Sanyang told The Standard.
In September 2020, The Gambia introduced the so-called $20 immigration and security system levy on all arriving and departing passengers. The decision outraged many Gambians and attracted international criticism. Recently, a leading Scandinavian tour operator Nordic, said the levy is part of the reasons it has pulled out of Destination Gambia this winter. The minister of tourism, Hamat Bah, is on record to have said that his ministry had not been involved in the establishment of the levy. Despite all these, the policy remains in place.
But according to the Latrikunda Sabiji NAM, who is also the chairman of the project monitoring and implementation committee of the National Assembly, he has already told the Clerk to write to the body collecting this tax to inform them that his committee would want to see them. “We are going to make it a very friendly but tactful conversation to know why this is happening [at the airport], and where is the money going to? Is it going to the Consolidated Fund, or is it going to businessmen? We would want to know the procurement process; was it advertised? Was it a competitive bid where Alagie, Yaya and Sulayman can take part and give it to the lowest and most responsive bidder? We would want to know all of these things. I don’t want to pre-empt the work, but I can tell Gambians, through this interview, to give us a month or so, and we will get to the bottom of the matter and we will make a recommendation as far as this airport levy is concerned,” Sanyang said.
He added: “The best thing they could have done is to fuse it with the ticket money. Not many travel with hard cash. This is the 21st century. People are more into e-banking. If you want people to come and pay hard currency in front of a desk, the tendencies of corruption are very high. The whole [issue] is senseless. That is why I want to know the motive first before it is scrapped, and where is the money going to? We will scrutinise everything and we will expose everybody and inform Gambians.”
Read the full interview next page.