By Nelson Manneh
Borri Darboe the Country Sales and Marketing Manager of the Banjul Breweries Ltd yesterday indicated that if the Government does not revise the tax levy imposed on them, the company will have no other choice than to shut down its business.
“In 2017 we paid one hundred and twenty (120) million Dalasis as tax. In 2018 we paid one hundred and thirty-two (132) million Dalasis and in 2019 just from January to April we paid ninety-seven (97) million Dalasis,” he said.
“This tax issue has been affecting the company, this is why we are thinking of closing if the government does not listen to us,” he said.
Speaking to Foroyaa in his office in Kanifing Mr. Darboe said the government should be able to protect all local industries including Banjul Breweries.
He said if they do not do that there will be a total collapse of the economy. Increase in tax from 10% to 75% is way above board and nowhere in Africa, nowhere in the world is a product being hit with a tax of this nature.
The country sales and marketing manager indicated that the 75% increment excludes VAT and “if VAT is to be added on top of the 75% it will give you a total of 90% which is not favourable at all to any company in the world”.
“Which business can survive under such circumstances?” The Marketing Manager asked.
He said the company is not refusing tax increment as they know that The Gambia is a tax based economy and the company has been in the Gambia for forty-one years now, very cooperative, very understanding and very helpful.
“Squeeze the company, forcing it to shut down should not be a priority to anybody. The earlier they revise it downward the better because shareholders have been waiting for so long. They believe in the country despite after not making profit for ten years. The investors just realised their first significant profit in 2018,” he said.
Mr. Darboe said the government should consider the impact of the closure of the company, that it will not only impact on its staff but also on the society, and the biggest loser will be the government since thousands of people will be affected.
He added that tourism which today is providing a lot of money to the state will scale down. The hotels will also have to scale down. Some hotels have already proposed to scale down their staff to 40% and if all hotels do the same how many youths will be going home jobless? He questioned.
He said if the government is trying to stop alcohol in the country, the measures they are taking are wrong.
“They made a research and where they have based their research, we discover that they got it all wrong. The research was centered on products that are 40% alcoholic because these are the ones destroying our youths, beer and some other hard drinks we produce here are 4.7% alcoholic.”
He said the final research result that was given to the government from the researchers was misleading because the state was not advised properly.
He said the sister factory of Banjul Breweries Ltd in Senegal ‘Subow’ was established in1928 while Banjul Breweries in the Gambia was established in 1975 and the Senegalese government is protecting ‘Subow’.
He said the government cannot justify their reason of increasing the tax drastically like this. He alleges that the measures that the government has taken are to squeeze their business and they want to take all the money from the company in order to take care of their planned activities.
Darboe said the company has started firing staff and that will not solve the problem; that they will shut down the company if the government does not listen to them. He said they have already terminated 18 staff and this week 25 staff will ‘be going home’.
“On Monday the production plant will be shut down and we will sell the products that are in the stores and after that, we will decide whether we will finally close down the company,” he said.
Sankung Jobarteh told Foroyaa that he has not received his benefits for the past five months because of the tax levy on the company.
“Every day when I come to work, I feel that I will be the next person to be terminated from work and the government is not doing anything towards it,” he said.
He said the Authorities promised them (the youths) that they can make it in this country but that is not what is happening on the ground.
How are the whole and retail sellers affected?
Some whole sellers whom this reporter met roaming in the premises of the company told Foroyaa that their businesses are not working.
“We are even thinking of closing our shops because the business is frustrating and it is better, we think of what to do than continuing like this,” they said.