By: Kebba AF Touray
The Trade Committee of the Legislature yesterday concluded its five-day oversight visits to the institutions under its purview.
The visit coincided with a visit to The Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), The Gambia Milling Corporation (GMC) and The Gambia Ports Authority (GPA).
At the GCCI, the Management called for the need to prioritize local content, level playing field for the entrepreneurs, transparency and protection of the business communities. This according to them will encourage and ensure effective involvement of the Chambers and the actors in the business arena.
At the GMC, the management said the company started operations in 2013 and has been producing flour and animal feed since inception with a production capacity of 5000 bags daily with 130 employees.
“The company produces 1700 bags of animal feed a day. In 2017, the company increased its capacity from 300 metric tons to 450 metric tons per day and the supply demand of its market suppliers is 20,000 bags weekly”, said the management.
The management said, “we produce 2700 bags of flour a week in the month of Ramadan and the company imports the wheat for its the production of flour and we don’t export our produce. All go to meeting the flour and animal feed of the Gambian consumers. In 2016, we sent 8 of our workers to Kenya for training courses in mechanic, electricity, milling and laboratory techniques, the majority of whom were Gambians”.
Visiting the GPA, the Managing Director, Ousman M Jobarteh, narrated that ports have a storage area of 63,000 square meters of storage area for handling an increasing number of containers.
He said, “the ten years preceding 2016, we have been having an annual growth rate of 7 percent in terms of the volume of cargo, have increased from 12 percent in 2017 to 16 percent by end December 2018. This has also increased in the first quarter of 2019 to 18 percent growth”.
He added: “The container business alone and transit grew by more than 102 percent, due to the ongoing national transformation and we are certain that the growth indicators are strong and real and compares with the GDP growth that is produced by the Ministry of Finance”.
Mr Jobarteh said in terms of volume, they have 2.5 million metric tons of cargo and the number of containers has also increased to 130,000 by end 2018 that were handled, while citing that their major challenge is the limited space at the ports as a result of increase in volume of cargo, which he said is on the rise while the space is not increasing commensurably.
Committee Chairperson Muhammed Mahanera, hailed the committee and the media for their commitment and dedication manifested during the course of the five-day visit. He frowned at foreign dominance in the country’s business area.
“We want the government to encourage Gambians into business, so that they will have commitment towards national development, because with the trend, the resources will remain in the country,” adding that “anywhere your economy is controlled by foreigners, the citizens will suffer”, he said.
He said they will make their recommendation and through collaboration with the stakeholders in the business sector, will ensure that the concerns raised will be addressed, to ensure the well-being of Gambians and national development.