The Gambia Press Union has yesterday withdrawn from talks over the Daily Observer’s D17 million tax liabilities with the Gambia Revenue Authority.
In a statement yesterday, the GPU explained that the abrupt decision was reached following what it describes as the “incorrigible behavior” of the paper’s leadership.
Below is the full press release:
“July 17, 2017: The Gambia Press Union (GPU) hereby declares its withdrawal from negotiations over the Daily Observer’s tax liabilities with immediate effect.
On Wednesday June 14, 2017, the GRA ordered the Daily Observer to cease operations over taxes owed over time.
The GPU has since been facilitating dialogue between the management of the Daily Observer and the GRA in order to work out a realistic payment plan so that the newspaper can resume operations.
Even though no deal has been reached, GRA has commendably allowed the Daily Observer to resume operations.
However, the founding fathers of the GPU established this reputable organisation on the principles of freedom, truth, integrity and honesty. Therefore, when initiating our interventions for the re-opening of Daily Observer, it was our hope and expectation that the talks would be based on truth and honesty.
Unfortunately, the GPU has been forced to withdraw from the talks due to the incorrigible behaviour of the leadership of the Daily Observer.
We thank both GRA and Daily Observer for their willingness to engage with us. The GPU’s position remains that shutting down Daily Observer is not an option to be explored at this point. Closure would be a disproportionate measure as the harm that it would cause to free expression and welfare of journalists would outweigh the benefits. The Daily Observer has more than hundred media workers whose welfare and interests should be of paramount consideration.
Furthermore, the GPU also calls on the government, through the Ministry of Information and Communication Infrastructure (MoICI) and Ministry of Justice, to engage the management of the Daily Observer to establish the ownership of the Daily Observer. Transparency of media ownership is not only important for media freedom but also for the protection and promotion of the rights and welfare of our members.