Please allow me space in your newspaper to dilate on the pressing issue of the high cost of food items. The business community is one of the most important segments of any society. Imagine what sort of face a nation and her people will depict when there is loose regulation of routine sale of goods and services. Internal trade is very important, dictating as it does the availability and the affordability of our basic needs especially our staple food. Our beloved country has witnessed a high increase in the prices of staple food within the past decade. If a country is to develop into a city state, then her people must be healthy and health can hardly come when people are struggling to afford nutritious and quality food thanks to some ungrateful and greedy business people who sell bags of rice highly infested with dust and dirty pebbles at high prices.
There is the need to put in place regulatory mechanisms to monitor this undesirable situation. This is important because it is forcing many hard working Gambians to live from hand to mouth. The business people should bear in mind that showing sympathy plus a clean, fair and transparent business shall surely lead to a more profitable and prosperous business.
In 2007 the price of rice was D750 and in this 2014 it is almost D1,100. The cost of a twenty litre drum of cooking oil is close to D1,000. The same goes for onions, Irish potato, ‘Jumbo’, bread, tomato paste match box, black mint, building materials and clothes, just to name a few .
The president has made efforts to sell goods at reasonable prices to the poor and yet some of these strong business people go incognito and buy in bulk those goods meant to help poor people afford a better standard of living. The president himself has invited the business community to State House for dialogue with a view to creating a business environment favourable to all and yet nothing seems to have changed. Mr President, I humbly urge you to sponsor feasibility studies to assess if it possible to set up a semi-autonomous body from the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Employment that shall be charged with the responsibility of dictating and meticulously monitoring how the business community keeps increasing prices in The Gambia. We need this body in place to restore the diminishing value of the dalasi. We all know that our dalasi coins like the 5, 10, and 25 bututs have almost lost value because they cannot buy any commodity or service. Some shopkeepers have started refusing these coins. A Jola proverb says that an eardrum which fails to condone good advice ends up in solitary life full of melancholy.
Finally, let me state that I am only a young man and a teacher by profession who has a strong sense of patriotism for my country. I hope the business community will see sense in what I have been trying to get across.
Lamin A Bojang
Bakau Lower Basic School]]>