By Aji Fatou Faal
Lawmakers at the National Assembly on Wednesday approved the Gambia Import and Export Promotion Agency (GIEPA) Amendment Bill 2018 during the First Extra-Ordinary Session of the 2018 Legislative Year at the Assembly Chambers in Banjul.
Tabling the Bill, Hon. Fatoumatta Jallow –Tambajang, Vice President and Minister of Women’s Affairs said GIEPA was established to promote and facilitate investment, support and promote business and export development, as well as entrepreneurship and enterprise development to spur growth in the micro, small and medium enterprise sector to enhance their contribution to national development.
“As a key driver for economic growth, the Agency focuses its resources in the promotion and facilitation of direct investment particularly Foreign Direct Investment to bridge the resource gap in the economy. Consequently, the Agency serves as the entry point for potential investors, provides them with the necessary information on the various sectors of the economy especially priority sectors and helps form the necessary network of contacts in the country. It also provides after care services to investors by regularly visiting them and makes follow ups on issues of interest to them. In addition, it ensures that the policy and regulatory environment remain friendly to investment by advocating for the investment code that keeps abreast with the changing needs of investors. This has led to the enactment of GIEPA Act 2010 and the most recent GIEPA Act 2015,” she said.
According to her, the review and amendment of the investment code is not only designed to respond to the changing needs of the investors but also to align those needs to the development priorities of The Gambia.
“It is in this context that this Ministry is initiating the amendment of the GIEPA Act 2015 to align its schedule of priority sectors and areas to national development priority. The list of priority sectors and areas which are found on Schedule II of the Act include among other things Mineral Exploration; Petroleum Exploration as defined in the Petroleum (Exploration, Development and Production) Act 2004, Mining of precious Stones and others as defined in the Mines and Quarries Act 2005. Shall be amended to remove both Petroleum and Mining from both the priority sectors list and areas and be transferred to Strategic Industries under schedule VI,” she said.
She noted that the government is at an advance stage in implementing the petroleum exploration license for Blocks A2 and A5. “As per the work plan for 2018 it anticipates drilling the first exploration well before 31st December, 2018. Also the government is at advanced stages of licensing the remaining offshore A1, A3, A4, and A6, ultra deep and onshore blocks. This licensing will indeed create revenue streams for the Government through among other things; charging cooperate tax in the upstream petroleum operation. However, as per the GIEPA Act 2015, Schedule II listed Petroleum Exploration as a priority Sector and Part VI-Investment Incentives sub section 36(1) states. There is established by this Act, the following priority categories of investment-(a) The priority sectors specified in schedule II, consisting of sectors determined to be in urgent need of investment and (b) Priority areas specified in Schedule III consisting of the geographical areas of The Gambia determined to be in acute need of development.”