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Cement importers allege competitors unfairly protected by gov’t

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By Amadou Jadama

The standoff between the cement importers association and government over the sudden high increment of import tax is continuing with truckloads of cement piling at Kerr Ayub border.

The importers decried the rise from D30 to D180 duty per bag as unreasonable and unbearable and putting them out of business.

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They accused government of trying to protect their competitors Jah Oil and others on the pretext that they are Gambian owned cement factories when actually ‘they too import cement’.

When The Standard visited the border, many importers predicted shortage of cement since according to them “the so-called factories government is protecting cannot meet  the market demand.”

They accused Jah Oil of importing cement from Senegal but wondered whether they are paying the new import duty. “It does not make sense that anyone will pay this high duty and continue to sell at the price they are selling,” said 

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Alhagie Mbye, treasurer of the Cement Importers and Traders Association.

“I don’t know what privilege have they got but they cannot be paying this high tax and stay in business, “he added.

The Standard contacted a senior GRA official at the border whether Jah Oil is paying tax on the cement it is importing across the border but he declined to comment referring us to the PRO who in turn declined to comment.

Contacted on this issue, the general manager of Jah Oil  Momodou Hydara, said he cannot comment on the issue. He however said on West Coast Radio that his company can supply enough cement to inundate the market.

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