By Yankuba Jallow
The Minister of Trade on Wednesday, 24th June 2020 told lawmakers that Banjul Breweries are resolute on their plan to stop their operation in the Gambia as they begin selling their assets.
Honourable Lamin Jobe said this while answering a question by Honourable Kebba K. Barrow, the Majority Leader and member for Kombo South.
“Honourable Speaker, would the Minister for Trade confirm to this august body whether Banjul Breweries Limited will cease to operate after forty (40) years in The Gambia?” Honourable Barow asked.
“Thank you Honourable Speaker and thank you, Honourable Member. My Ministry was formally notified by Banjul Breweries Limited (by their management) that they are ceasing operation in The Gambia,” the Minister said.
He said on the 27th March 2020, Banjul Breweries informed the Ministry that on the 30th March 2020, they will be ceasing operation. He disclosed that the reasons advanced included both economic and financial issues. He said when the Ministry discussed with the Banjul Breweries, they were told that the decision came from their board of directors.
“It was a board resolution who thought it was unworthy for the company to continue on this trend,” the Minister said.
He informed the lawmakers that Banjul Breweries has ceased operation in The Gambia.
“The company is no longer operating or producing. Its machines are shut down, the staffs have been laid off and their entitlements fully paid,” Minister Jobe said.
He said the Government has promised Banjul Breweries that they will be reviewing their letter and will hopefully come up with some remedial actions as per the challenges highlighted as for the economic and technical reasons.
“We have engaged the company (Banjul Breweries) but we could not stop the process,” the Minister said.
The Minister explained that a task force was set up comprising of the Ministries of Trade, Finance and Lands, Gambia Revenue Authority, GIEPA, Policy and Delivery Unit of the Office of the President and the Department of Labour. He said during the first meeting of the taskforce, it was recommended that the Ministry of Trade request the National Audit Office and the Gambia Investment and Export Promotion Agency to work on an investigative report and the Ministry of Justice provide legal advice to the Ministry of Trade.
He said the meeting was on-going simultaneously with the sittings of the National Assembly.
He said the Ministry got the latest development that the Banjul Breweries were selling their assets. The Minister said he sent his Director of Investment and Industry to confirm and their sector general informed them that everything was intact.
“But I have further, come to know that they have really started selling their assets. We came to know that the soft drink part of the facility was sold to a local Gambian businessman who is not interested in the Breweries side but have consented to buy the soft drink part of the machinery,” the Minister said.
He said the Government cannot stop them from selling their properties because it is owned by a private company.
“We have several companies lining up to buy Banjul Breweries. People are still interested to buy the company and continue with the operation,” he said.
He said Banjul Breweries want to make their facility in the Gambia as sales deport while they produce in Senegal.
“This is what we are not going to accept,” the Minister said.