By Yusef Taylor
This is the third installment on our Budget 2019 articles which takes a closer looks at the economy and how it will affect the lives of everyday Gambian residents and businesses in 2019. After reading news of the increase on taxes of basic commodities such as cement, flour, onions and potatoes a comparison was conducted on the tax increases as detailed in the 2018 and 2019 Budget Speeches. The details of this comparison are contained in Table 1 below. It can be seen that no mention has been made of the increases in taxes of the basic commodities listed above.
The 2018 Budget Speech was prepared by Amadou Sanneh and features decreases for all commodities listed except for used cars which don’t detail the 2017 tax rates for comparison. The 2019 Budget Speech prepared by Mambury Njie features increases for all commodities listed and only features five commodities in comparison to the 2018 Budget Speech which features 10 commodities. This proves that the 2019 Budget Speech is scanty and leaves out a lot of information which could affect the everyday living of the general public.
Looking at the decrease (2018) and increase (2019) of taxes on new cars and commercial rent it can be concluded that Mambury Njie has reversed the decrease of his predecessor Amadou Sanneh. Amadou Sanneh managed to decrease rice import duty from 15% to 0%. Although this may have lowered the cost of imported rice however, some could argue that it leaves local rice producers vulnerable and is counter-productive in The Gambia’s crusade towards food self-sufficiency.
Fast forward to the 2019 Budget Speech which features no decreases, the highest increases are on alcohol, however, the tax increases on basic commodities such as cement, flour, onions, and potatoes are not detailed. It’s of paramount importance for local businesses and residents to know the exact tax increases of basic goods and commodities in order to ascertain the impact it will have on them this year.