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NAM blames trade, finance ministers for current price hikes

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By Tabora Bojang

Niamina Dankunku lawmaker, Samba Jallow, has blamed Finance Minister Seedy Keita and Trade Minister Baboucarr Joof for the current hike in food prices.

Jallow, a former minority leader, said the duo have been negligent in failing to ensure the $50 million loan meant for Gambian businesses was given to appropriate entities.

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The loan agreement between BADEA and the Gambia government was tabled by Finance Minister Keita last year. He pledged the loan would be given to Gambian businesses involved in the importation of essential commodities to ease price pressures.

Earlier this month, Minister Keita told deputies that the current beneficiary of the $50 million facility is Jah Oil since it is the only company able to fulfill the loan conditions including upfront administrative payment of D48 million.

 Speaking at the adjournment debate Thursday, NAM Jallow, the longest lawmaker in the National Assembly, charged that it is an “insult” for the minister to declare before the Assembly that there is no businessman in the country who was able to pull out D48 million to unblock these funds.

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“A whole nation that has been independent for over 50 years and you are telling us that there is only one person who has the capacity to pull out D48 million. That is definitely an insult. I think we have to blame the two ministers (finance and trade) for this current high commodity prices in the market. Concerned Gambians came up with this brilliant idea to use government to get funds so that our businesses will import more commodities to bring down the prices but you take that money, give it to an individual who we all know imports petroleum products, when the most important issue in the country is food.  The price for a bag of rice and other commodities have gone up,” he decried.

Jallow said unlike the GGC’s efforts in bringing rice and oil which brought down market prices in the past, the BADEA loan has not paid any dividends.

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