Tens of businesses have been closing shop in the Gambia since the introduction of new tax system in January this year. This follows Jammeh’s refusal to reduce the cost of fuel in Gambia, following the decrease in worldwide oil prices that has seen responsible governments reducing the prices of fuel to pass on the saving to their citizens. According to confirmed reports, businesses numbering up to thirty have closed shop already, most of them complaining about high taxes, lack of electricity, competing with President Jammeh’s various businesses run by the army and green youths as well as high operational cost.
While Senegal is reducing taxes and eliminating tourist visas to attract tourist and investors, The Jammeh regime in Gambia is busy increasing taxes to payoff loans both domestic and International. Observers stated that with raising food prices, transport cost etc, many would rather eat and find a way to make it to work than spend money buying clothes and other non essentials, meaning that those operating such businesses including hair salons whose businesses are seasonal are forced to close.
A businessman we spoke to confirmed that the unbearable high taxes plus hostile environment is driving businesses to close shop as they either running at losses or trying to avoid collapse altogether. Government interference by imposing regulations bad for competition and free enterprise is also adding up to this.
An example of these regulations, is the government banning private traders from importing flour, one of the most consumed food commodity in the Gambia besides rice, meaning that Kanilai Group has been the sole distributor. The price of flour that used to cost D750 per bag is being sold at D1,550 per bag. According to sources, the price of bread is expected to increase soon due to the rise in the cost of flour, a business woman said.
A tailor who was forced to close his business cited high taxes levied against them by the government, the added VAT payments, area council taxes and lack of electricity to complete orders as the reason he closed his shop at the Banjul market. He said that for many of his former clients, their priority is no longer what to wear but what to eat, meaning that clients no longer come as often as they use to.