By Assan Bah
Gambians are lamenting the recent hike in prices of basic commodities as they attribute it to uncontrolled rent fees and excessive taxes that businesses pay.
Some said the price is unacceptable as they demand the Government to take necessary action to address the problem.
Gambians have been complaining about price hikes over the years, but the recent price hike is a cause for concern for Gambians. This reporter visited some of the major markets in West Coast Region and the Kanifing Municipality on 8 November 2023 to gauge the opinions of the businessmen and women. The retailers [shopkeepers] blamed the latest increment in the cost of rent, tax, and unstable prices on properties.
Abdoulie Jallow, a shopkeeper at the Brikama Market, said the prices of basic commodities are not stable because they change almost every month.
“When we buy a particular good this month, we will buy it at a different price the next month,” Abdoulie Jallow said.
He said because of this price fluctuation, they cannot buy what they used to buy in the past.
“This is because of the constant price hikes,” Jallow said.
He said the cause of price hikes cannot be solely attributed to shopkeepers.
“The increment usually comes from the top. The cost of rent has also been expensive because the landlords have increased rent fees. The government is also increasing taxes on businesses and we are urging them to help us by reducing taxes. When they increase tax, it will reflect on the price of basic commodities,” Jallow said.
Jallow said he knows some business persons who left the Gambia and have moved to other countries to do business.
“The main reason many people are abandoning their shops and migrating to other countries, which in the process can lead to loss of lives, is because of these issues [mentioned above] because, at the end of the day, you won’t make any meaningful profit after paying huge rent fees, taxes and transportation,” Jallow said.
He called on the government to come up with measures to regulate rent fees and reduce tax, adding property owners have the habit of increasing rent fees at times by 50% to 75%.
“The sad thing is that the way they are increasing taxes and rents is worrying because most of the time they increase them up to 50 to 75%. The government should come forward to assist its people by regulating these prices and put measures to regulate the price of rents and taxes. If not all the youth will leave the country for other countries,” Jallow said.
Muhammed Faal at Serekunda Market said, “The price of goods is not stable because today you will buy a good at this price and tomorrow you find out that it has either increased or gone down.”
He also lamented the high cost of rent and transportation and called on the government to regulate the prices imposed by the importers and put a policy on rent prices.
All other vendors who spoke to Foroyaa made similar remarks as they all called on the Gambia Government to take steps to address the problem.
The recent prices of commodities at the Brikama Market, stands as follows; a bag of American rice (50kg) from D1,700 to D1,750, Sadam rice (50kg) went up from D2,550 to D2,600, a 20-litre gallon of cooking oil is sold at D1,500, a bag of sugar (50kg) is sold at D2,650, a bag of flour is currently sold at D2,200, a bag of potato is sold at D1,000, a bag of onion is sold at D950 and 5-litre container of Armanti Mayonnaise went down from D1,200 to D1,150.
For Serekunda and Latrikunda Markets, a bag of rice of American moved from D1700 to D1750 and Sadam from D2,400 to D2,600, a 20-litre gallon of cooking oil remains at D1,500 while the 5-litre gallon is sold at D500, a 5-litre gallon of Armanti Mayonnaise is sold at D1,150 and a bag of sugar went up from D2,600 to D2,650.
Meanwhile, the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Trade told this medium that the recent increment was news to him and promised that the Ministry would do a market analysis.