Cement Importers Risk Losing Revenue Due to New Import Duty

136

A press statement issued by the Cement Importers and Traders Association (CITA) dated May 27, 2024, said cement investors or importers risk losing between 75 and 115 million Dalasi, due to the recent increment on import duty on cement across the border from D35 to D180.

The statement reveals: “The devastating consequence of the selective application of the new import duty on cement by road is now evident. Prices in the provinces have surged to as high as D420 for a bag of cement in some areas, nearly D50 more, a few weeks ago. 

“This spike in prices persists because all cement in The Gambia is being imported and we are restricting supply, as acknowledged by both the government and local bagging companies. This policy disproportionately impacts smaller importers.’’

They said these actions have highlighted the limited capacity of bagging operators in the country and put the country at risk of meeting demand less than two weeks of this policy shift. While Jah Oil Company seemingly thrives under this new policy, the release said Gambian transporters and their direct employees of more than 3,000 people would continue to suffer.

“Jah Oil appears to be the only Gambian company benefiting from the ECOWAS protocol of free movement of people and goods, while over 200 to 300 trucks, 90% of which are Gambian-owned and operated, are stranded at the border without the ability to pay the new D180 duty per bag of cement,’’ the press release said. 

The press statement further reported that for over 12 days now, these truck drivers and their apprentices have been enduring deplorable conditions with no access to proper toilet facilities or security, as they fend off would-be opportunists. The statement said that the situation has caused immense hardship for the drivers who faced financial strain and inadequate living conditions at the border for the past two weeks, including their families.

“As the ‘Tobaski’ feast approaches, these workers desperately need a functioning transport industry to support their families. Most of the industry offer double salary for the month of Tobaski, and the cement they are carrying represents investments from Gambian small business owners of between D75 million to D115 million, which are at risk of hardening or getting spoiled from rains,’’ the press release of the Cement Traders Association indicated. 

They further argued that the GRA will lose between D35 million to D75 million per month on border crossing import duties and another D14 million to D21 million in fuel tax revenue that will not be generated by the idle trucks, adding that it is time for the Gambia government to prioritise the interests of its citizens.