By Omar Bah
The outgoing president of the Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry Muhammad Jagana has suggested that government should refrain from according foreign investors direct access to the president since there are competent institutions such as GIEPA and GCCI which can give them any advice they may require.
Jagana was speaking at a press conference yesterday at the GCCI Ker Jula building in Bijilo.
He went on: “This practice was started by former president Jammeh and it is unfortunate that it is still continuing under president Barrow even though we recognize that the president has the right to choose who sees him but when it comes to business investors, they should be vetted. Unfortunately, GCCI is not the government but we believe it is up to them to tell foreign investors coming into this country that we have agencies that are established by parliament and that they should go through those agencies.”
Mr Jagana further reported that the country’s business environment has been very challenging over the past two years and that there are areas they can improve on especially in pushing indigenous Gambian businesses to participate in key sectors of the country’s economy.
However, he said, with the establishment of the National Business Council where five cabinet members and eight private sector operators are represented, they are confident that that will give them a stronger footing to direct policies that would encourage more indigenous participation in the country’s business activities.
“At the beginning of my presidency, inadequate financial resources has been a major shutdown for the GCCI in terms of addressing the gross demand of the private sector but today we are proud to announce that our financial status is stronger than ever and we have managed to increase our accumulated funds from D1.3M in 2012 to D17M,” he reported.
“We have been able to maintain an average surplus of more than D4M in the last five years and we will continue to push to ensure that more indigenous Gambians are involved in businesses. We were also able to generate 66 bututs in every dalasi of assets that we implore in 2018 compared to 26 bututs previously,” he asserted.
He said the GCCI international trade fair has also grown tremendously over the past years.
“In the area of capacity building, one of our staff has completed an MBA course last year, two staff are enrolled on bachelor degree programs and three more are pursuing degree programs to further their education and professional delivery,” he added.
Mr Jagana said through the support of the African Development Bank and the UN Industrial Development Organisation, the GCCI is commissioning a solar power project that will supply its office and the new trade fair grounds in Bijilo with 1.9 kilowatts.
Meanwhile, the press briefing also witnessed the launch of the GCCI International Trade Fair Gambia 2019 and the new GCCI Youth APP.