By Amadou Jadama
The spokesperson of the Gambia Market Union, has accused the government of President Adama Barrow of being responsible for the hike in the prices of essential food commodities such as rice, sugar, cooking oil and others for failing to impose a price control regime.
Sulayman Dampha, who is himself a trader at Serekunda Market, said the government of erstwhile president Dawda Jawara, was successful because of its effective price control policy which saw businesses in the country flourish thereby reducing the cost of living in The Gambia.
“Since the current price hike started, the government has been silent about it. We have never seen the government come out in public to condemn or to address the issue. I blamed them for failing to impose price control. I received many complaints from all the markets in the country regarding this price hiking of essential commodities. People have suffered and suffering, especially during this past Ramadan,” Dampha noted.
He added: “Just the other week, the government issued a press release on cement with a fixed price of about D305. The government should not release a press release stating that the price of cement is set at D305. That is still expensive. The saddest thing is that under this present regime, if they issued a press release for something, people don’t honour it. They should enforce their order, and impose price control and ensure that prices are reduced. People should not sell their goods at any price they like.
“We have seen some unscrupulous businessmen selling cement at more than its normal price. Before Ramadan, 20-litre of cooking oil was costing D950. But today it costs D1,500 to D1,600; a bag of rice was costing D1,650 and the prices of other commodities have also gone up. The way The Gambia is moving, if the government doesn’t take actions against businessmen, that would be disastrous. Government should empower the citizens especially the youth by giving them loans to venture into business. Because if you look at the business sector in this country, 80 percent of the businesses are being controlled by foreigners and that is why the business sector collapsed,“ he said.
Mr Dampha further disclosed that during the PPP rule, Gambians controlled business and that was why commerce in country was vibrant. “I remember in 1993, I used to sell candles in Serekunda Market and Senegalese and people from other countries used to come here to shop. But today, all our goods come from Senegal and other countries.”
He urged the food safety authority to inspect the markets in the country. “Recently, we have concluded a nationwide tour of all the markets in the country, but some of the market stores are not hygienic,” he claimed.
Mr Dampha refuted claims government has lifted tax on basic commodities saying: “There is no free tax in this country. If that is the reality on the ground, then let them put pressure on the businessmen to reduce the price