By: Momodou Camara
Fit has been almost one year since President Barrow and his Team in the Cabinet poured millions by way of tax exempts meaning being zeroed for the prices of basic food stuffs to plummet. We are one year into that promise and yet still nothing significant has happened and yet the beneficiaries of those tax exemptions are in town and enjoying our camaraderie and basking in the glory of the River Gambia and its infinite promises. A government cannot be timid! A nation cannot go silent! A people be held hostage! We must stand up and ask questions! An economy must be mastered and engineered by technocrats. A government cannot idly stand by while big businesses tear the masses apart. We have since seen two ministers occupy that strategic Ministry with very little or nothing being done to present a case for the 0% rated taxes on basic food stuffs.
Who are the beneficiaries of these tax exempts, why should they not be followed? Where is GRA in all this? What is the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs doing about it? Where are the minutes of those meetings and decisions? What happened to those promises that are not kept? When will The Gambia Government start to show seriousness in tackling corruption and abuse of office? Who benefitted from these tax exemptions and who are their enablers and collaborators? As a last resort. Where is the National Assembly in all this? Who is going to stand up for country and culture and save the Gambian people? Should our society just keep revolving on promises and tricks that will never crystallize into tangible gains and rewards by pseudo technocrats while we keep believing that the NEVER AGAIN propaganda will be realized. Our theories and researches on the economy come and go into empty promises and disappearing into the abyss of failed economies and their attendant problems.
At MONEY AND MARKET we respectfully ask the President and all actors in these TAX EXEMPTIONS for basic food stuffs to plummet to be held accountable. Bring down the cost of basic food stuff or pay the taxes with penalty and interest as agreed then. When are we going to conduct ourselves seriously and begin to give our development partners and friends and the wider global community the notifications that we are VERY SERIOUS AND COMMITTED to the New Gambia Agenda and buttress the fact that we do respect our laws and our country? Enough is enough and Gambians must start to be ethical and not take up positions and government jobs just for self aggrandizement and corruption. Bring down the cost of basic food stuffs or payback the taxes that were zeroed for the ad hoc experiment.
The people who were entrusted with the roles, responsibilities and jobs at the time must be summoned to give account and be held accountable and where necessary to named and shamed. Where corruption is involved, those responsible must be brought before the right protocols and the needful be served as a deterrent. This is a country of rules, regulations and laws governing the ways and manner we carry out our respective jobs and roles. Where public servants are found to break the law, then the necessary steps must be seen to be taken to address those wrongs. The law must be enforced without ill will or affection.
Wake Gambia and wake up Gambians!
I wish there is an emergency meeting by the President and his Cabinet on the issues of the millions wasted on subsidizing the costs of basic food stuffs. A revisit could bring the prices down before Ramadan for the benefit of all Gambians as promised then! The Government of the day must be seen to be acting on the cries of the people and that is what every responsible and respectable government does. We encouraged President Barrow to take the bull by the horn and summon those who were in charges to revisit the Zero Rated Taxes on basic food stuff especially rice and make those savings tell on the prices of basic food stiff for Ramadan 2019. The records are there and the businessmen who benefits from those Zero Rated Taxes are also around and on records. There is no problem taking those millions and subsidizing the Ramadan shopping of every Gambian. If President Barrow’s bid for a second term is anything tangible then these are the milestones he has to clock to give him a great chance come December 2021. Here in The Gambia, like most Muslim communities around the globe, Ramadan is very important and there is no better time to show and stand up in solidarity with the Gambians in their hour of need.
From Money and Markets through the Standard Newspaper we wish Ramadan Kareem to all and sundry. I am very confident the questions and insights we gave on this platform will be followed and the needful will be done by the President and his Cabinet! Why allow people to abuse their roles, responsibilities and position with impunity?
INETRNATIONAL FINANCIAL MARKETS
Ukraine secures fresh IMF funding amid Russian tensions
A fiscally responsible 2019 budget has convinced the IMF to resume aid to Ukraine. The $3.9bn commitment will offer a much needed boost to the country as it faces up to escalating Russian aggression. On December 18, amid increased tensions with Russia and with a presidential election on the horizon, Ukraine secured a new $3.9bn lending commitment from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The assurance should help maintain stability within the nation – currently under martial law – as it approaches a critical period. President Petro Poroshenko tweeted the news, which will see the first disbursement of $1.4bn head to Ukraine on December 25. Further payments are scheduled over a 14-month period. Approval of the loan by the IMF was granted to the country following a conscientious 2019 budget that targets a deficit reduction to 2.3 percent of GDP and predicted growth of three percent. Concurrently, the World Bank announced a $750m loan to aid Ukrainian reforms in banking, anti-corruption, agriculture, pensions, utility subsidies and healthcare. Last year, a $17.5bn IMF aid package was frozen due to Ukraine’s lack of progress implementing reforms to erase corruption. To re-secure the funding, Ukraine’s government pledged to establish an anti-corruption court in 2019 and to raise energy tariffs by 23.5 percent, despite vocal opposition within the country. GDP growth in the country saw two years of significant contractions on the back of the annexation of Crimea and the outbreak of war with Russian separatists in the eastern Donbass region. Since 2016, however, growth has remained stable. Recently, uncertainty in the region surfaced once more when three Ukrainian naval vessels were attacked and seized by Crimea-based Russian forces as they attempted to sail through the Kerch Strait. Ukraine accused Russia of implementing an economic blockade on export-reliant Ukrainian ports in the Sea of Azov. In March of next year, Ukraine will head to the polling booths to elect a new president, in what is expected to be a tightly contested race. Mr Poroshenko’s approval ratings have slumped in recent months, allowing former two-time prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, of the pro-EU ‘Fatherland’ party, to amass a lead in opinion polls.
ENTREPRENEUR QUOTES OF THE WEEK
Too many people spend money they earned to buy things they don’t want to impress people that they don’t like.
A wise person should have money in their head, but not in their heart.
By –Jonathan Swift
Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.
Money often costs too much.
By–Ralph Waldo Emerson
Everyday is a bank account, and time is our currency. No one is rich, no one is poor, we’ve got 24 hours each.
It’s how you deal with failure that determines how you achieve success.
Frugality includes all the other virtues.
WORLD COMMERCE & BUSINESS
IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde Supports Somalia’s Efforts to Achieve Debt Relief
Ms. Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), met with Hassan Ali Khaire, Prime Minister of Somalia on 11th. April 2019 in Washington and issued the following statement: “I was very pleased to meet with Prime Minister Khaire and his economic team at the IMF headquarters. We had a very productive meeting and exchanged views on Somalia’s impressive progress in building institutional capacity and implementing its economic reform program amid a continuing fragile security situation. The prime minister reiterated the government’s strong commitment to the policies under the Staff Monitored Program (SMP), which expires at the end of the month. “Following satisfactory completion of the current SMP, I am optimistic that a follow-up program can be agreed that meets one of the key requirements for Somalia to reach the Decision Point under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative. Continued strong performance, together with support from international partners, will pave the way for Somalia to receive debt relief in the near future. In this regard, I assured the prime minister of the IMF’s full support for Somalia’s efforts.”