Rejoinder: GPA Statement Carried in the Press Purporting that the CBG Governor Confirms the Hike in Prices of Basic Commodities is Attributed to Port Charges in Banjul

It could be recalled that some time in March this year, when there was a public outcry in the high cost of basic commodities, the Ministry of Trade convened a stakeholders consultation involving GRA, GPA, shipping lines, major importers, clearing agents and other actors to determine the causes of such increases.

Following the consultation process, a press statement was issued by the same Ministry, excerpts of which indicated that their findings and observations revealed that the continuous existence of the coronavirus pandemic, has disrupted global supply chains resulting in high freight cost. It was also established that the freight cost to Banjul has increased by over 100% since November 2020 from an average cost of USD2, 750 [about D137, 500] per 20ft Container to USD 5,750 [about D287, 500].

The pandemic has also scaled down the global production level, and caused high prices of essential commodities in the international market. The international commodity prices have been surging from April 2020. The price of oil, which is a determinant factor on commodity prices continued to rise from the slump in mid-2020. The Price of a barrel of Brent Crude was USD42.3 [about D2, 115] as at November 2020 and it was USD63.8 [about D3, 190]as of 13th April 2021 representing an increase of 50.83%. The Gambia being a net importer of food like many other developing countries continues to feel the impact of the pandemic in the domestic market in a form of price hikes, the stakeholders consultation revealed.

It is still worth mentioning that despite the external factors on the domestic price of commodities, which to a large extent are beyond the control of the Government, some of the internal factors may exacerbate the situation. These include demurrage charges [levies on importers by a shipping line] as a result of the congestion at the port; and the reintroduction of 20% reduction of the indicative values by the Gambia Revenue Authority [GRA], and the registration fees of Food Safety and Quality Assurance (FSQA) by food establishments and some of the local fees charged by shipping lines and increases in the freight levy charged by Gambia Maritime Administration.

Despite the fact that most of these actors operate within the maritime domain, it is usually a misconception that it is the Port that is responsible for all the increases in the cost of business transactions.

It is on record that the GPA has taken efficiency improvement measures to address the increased demand on the Port facility due to the growth in volume over the past 4 years that is the major cause of the congestion. These are interim measures to alleviate the sitaution, while the GPA has commenced public tender for the preliminary engineering design, ESIA and bankability investment assessment for capacity improvements under the 4th Banjul Port Expansion Project.

It is hoped that Government will continue to assist in the realization of the project development needs of the Port to enhance its potential to sustain and improve productivity and faciltate trade to reduce the cost of doing business and increase the country’s attractiveness to serve as a trade and logistics hub for the sub region.

GPA Management

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Mr. Sainey M.K. Marenah is a Prominent Gambian journalist, founding editor The Alkamba Times and formerly head of communications at the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) and Communications and PR Consultant for The Gambia Pilot Program, under Gamworks. Mr. Marenah served as the Social media Strategist and Editor at Gambia Radio and Television Services. He is also the Banjul Correspondent for Voice of America Radio. Sainey is a human rights and developmental journalist who has carved a strong niche particularly in new media environments in the Gambian media industry. Mr. Marenah began his career as a junior reporter with the Point Newspaper in the Gambia in 2008 and rose through the ranks to become Chief correspondent before moving to The Standard Newspaper also in Banjul as Editorial Assistant and head of News. He is a household name in the Gambia’s media industry having covered some of the most important stories in the former and current government. These include the high profile treason cases including the Trial of Former military chiefs in Banjul in 2009 to 2012. Following his arrest and imprisonment by the former regime of President, Yahya Jammeh in 2014, Marenah moved to Dakar Senegal where he continues to practice Journalism freelancing for various local and international Media organization’s including the BBC, Al-Jazeera, VOA, and ZDF TV in Germany among others. He is the co-Founder of the Banjul Based Media Center for Research and Development; an institution specialized in research and development undertakings. As a journalist and Communication Expert, focused on supporting the Gambia's transitional process, Mr Marenah continues to play a pivotal role in shaping a viable media and communications platform that engages necessary tools and action to increase civic participation and awareness of the needs of transitional governance to strengthen the current move towards democratization. Mr. Marenah has traveled extensively as a professional journalist in both Europe, Africa and United States and attended several local and international media trainings.

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