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City of Banjul
Monday, October 2, 2023

Oligopolistic market and Gambia’s procurement profligacy   


As the country continues to battle with all indication of macroeconomic instability and recession, the government is yet to take any giant step to address the plight of the masses for better economy growth.

The Gambia subscribes to the capitalism ideology but apparently, it’s partially applied during our policy implementations. What’s capitalism without a perfect competitive market? It’s obvious that the country is still struggling to depart from an oligopoly market to better competitive market that will crush the menace of profit accommodation and unfair play in our economy.

Seemingly, the Gambia’s food importation is in the hands of non-Gambians which operate under the atmosphere of oligopoly. To end the unprecedented rising inflationary pressure in the country, we should strategize our trade policy and our balance of trade deficit should be quashed for the country to become an exporting nation than, an importing one. Our business sector operates under oligopolistic market despite our theoretical claims of competitive market to defend the situation in our markets at the dismay of consumers.

All we are seeing in our food importation sector are the models of oligopoly such as: Cournot, Bertrand and Stackelberg which are all oligopolistic behaviors. 

The main disadvantage of oligopoly is barrier to entry, meaning, new firms are not welcome into the market and odd existing ones will continue to connive among themselves at the detriment of consumers to accommodate more profits.

What we currently seeing in the country is firms are banded together to make united decisions to set unique prices and quantities which result to monopolist outcome. This is unhealthy for the economy and it results in anti-competitive behaviors, and consumers will be left with no option but to pay monopoly prices.

This collusion attitude provides way for firms in the country to divide the market into shares and jointly produce monopoly quantity by restricting output that result to more profit earning.

This is unfair to consumers and it should be scrapped for the interest of all.

Also we are faced with the profligacy of procurement malpractices in the country from the damning audit revelations which has tainted the image of the country. The GPPA was established in 2014 to avert fraudulent practices and misrepresentation in execution of contracts; but it seems that is not enough to regulate such an unbearable situation.

However, we understand the government is reviewing the procurement act to come with more progressive laws on procurement and bidding to reduce corruption and bring efficiency in the process.

With the current situation at hand, I am of the view that no law can change the current situation until the government takes a drastic stance on conflict-of-interest issues.

I understand that some of the senior government officials have allegedly established business entities to participate in bidding for government contracts but are often represented by third parties. This is unacceptable and it’s tantamount to serious conflict of interest. This situation is killing indigenous businessmen as most of the contracts are awarded to oneself or close aides who are mostly non-citizens.  The irresponsible, nepotistic and inefficient contract awarding should be put to an end through punitive stance to protect the integrity of procurement in the country.

Ebrima Jarra

Aljamdou Village

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