The general public is hereby informed that the Ministry of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment (MOTIE) has learned with grave concern that the ‘Senfour’ Bakers Association has increased the price of a loaf of bread (Senfour) from D10 to D12 effective 30th May 2022.
It is important to note that during the last few weeks, the Ministry had multiple engagements with the Association to establish the average cost structure of baking a loaf, which should determine and influence any price increments. From such engagement with the association, the Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), and The Gambia Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (GCCPC), it was adequately revealed that, the unit cost of a loaf of bread is between D6 to D7 and therefore selling it for D10 should yield a reasonable profit for any Bakery.
We are surprised that before the conclusions of these negotiations, the bakery association unilaterally increased the price from D10 to D12. The Ministry maintains that given the current prevailing conditions, the increment is NOT justifiable and as much as we encourage free market and competition, the Ministry will not endorse any perceivable abuse of consumers and therefore does not endorse the increment. We, therefore, call the Association to restore the price back to D10.
To this effect, the Ministry is strictly warning all businesses indulging in trade practice(s) that “brings about manipulation of prices or conditions of delivery or affect the flow of supplies in the market relating to goods or services in such a manner as to impose on the consumer’s unjustified costs or restrictions.” This is in violation of the Consumer Protection Act 2014 and businesses found wanting shall be dealt with according.
It is equally important to note that businesses and or associations coming together to fix a price is anti-competitive. Any business found to be doing this practice will face the force of the law.
The Ministry also learned that some community bakeries are still selling bread at D10. However, they are facing challenges with some local shops, as they are not accepting their bread. This suggests some form of refusal to deal in the industry, which is equally ant-competitive. We call on those shops involved in such practices to desist with immediate effect to avoid any punitive consequences.
In light of the above, the Ministry would like to continue the support it provides to community bakeries and therefore calls on all those community bakeries to send their proposal to the Ministry for consideration and possible support.
In the medium to long term, the Ministry is with strong conviction that the flour value chain including bread needs to be regulated including the prices of bread. Consequently, the Ministry is currently reviewing the Essential Commodities Act. and the Bread Regulations to address issues of concern in the bread value chain including production, distribution, quality, weights, and prices.
The Ministry would like to reassure the public that it will continue to do everything legally possible to ensure that the essential food commodities are available and accessible at reasonable prices.