Thursday, December 29, 2011

PRICES OF LOCALLY PRODUCED GOODS MAY FURTHER INCREASE


The prices of some locally produced goods will start to skyrocket come 2012 as the government has added more tax on domestically produced goods, something that will surely reflect on the final prices paid for these goods by consumers, whose earnings rarely increase.

As part of measures to remedy the declining revenue performance of the government, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs has announced that come 2012 it will widen the tax base in order to reverse the current decline in revenue and also reduce the swelling deficit of the country to the target that will allow sustainable growth in the economy.

Mambury Njie, Gambia's Minister of Finance
In this light, the Finance and Economic Affairs Minister Hon. Mambury Njie, while delivering the 2012 budget speech, said the government will expand excise tax coverage through the collection of excise taxes on domestically produced goods.  Excise tax is a tax levy on goods produced locally.

“This will certainly increase the cost on local producers,” said Abdoulie Baks Touray, an economist and financial analyst, who spoke to Marketplace Magazine shortly after the minister delivered the budget speech at the National Assembly on 17 December 2011. 

GAMBIAN BUSINESSMEN ARRESTED FOR SMUGGLING OVER D2B TO HONG KONG

Gambian notes
Two prominent businessmen, whose names are withheld for legal reasons, have been arrested at the Angolan capital of Luanda whilst on their way to Hong Kong, a Chinese liberated country whose economy is based on free enterprise and trade.

Two Gambian residents of Angola were arrested few weeks ago at the ‘Fourth February Airport’ in Luanda with cash in the region of US$7 million by  the Angolan authorities, impeccable sources cited The Gambia’s Honorary Consul in Angola, Haggi Jawara, as saying.

Sources also quoted Mr Jawara as saying the money, which was in US dollar, was confiscated from the two prominent businessmen while trying to travel to Hong Kong on November 28 this year for business.

GOV’T INTENDS TO EASE TAXATION BUT WANTS MORE TAX REVENUE

While the Gambia government is grappling with reversing the trend of the “significant drop” in revenues as a percentage to GDP from 17.5 per cent in 2007 to about 14 per cent in 2011, it also plans to put in place fiscal reforms that will review higher tax rates as well as broaden the tax base to make tax payments less burdensome.

With over 80 per cent of the Gambia government’s 2012 estimated total revenue to come from mainly taxation, it is interesting to see how the government could implement tax reforms that would ease out the increasing tax burden on businesses, entrepreneurs and, by extension, the people in 2012.

Gambia's Minister of Finance, Hon. Mambury Njie
However, according to the Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Mambury Njie, who read the 2012 national budget on 16 December at the National Assembly, the Gambia government intends to apply fiscal reforms that will include comprehensive tax reforms aimed at easing out the pressure and cumbersomeness of taxation in the country.

The finance minister said: “Fiscal reforms will also include a comprehensive tax reform with broad objectives of making the tax system much simpler, transparent and investment friendly by reviewing higher tax rates as well as broadening the tax base to make tax payments less burdensome.”

BOOMING TIME FOR THE PRIVATE SECTOR

ENTERING 2012 WITH HOPES AND ASPIRATIONS
The Gambia Government has launched a project to provide matching grant support to qualifying Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and eligible private enterprises to become more competitive, grow their businesses, create jobs and increase household incomes.

The launching of the Matching Grant Facility on 27 December,  according to the Minister of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment, “signifies that we will be entering 2012 with hopes and aspirations to become better entrepreneurs with resolutions of creating employment, better services and sustained wealth for improved livelihood of the Gambian people”.

Gambia's Trade Minister, Hon. Kolley
In his launching statement at the Kairaba Beach Hotel recently, Trade Minister Abdou Kolley said the project would help The Gambia’s private sector to successfully partake and grow in the domestic and international market.

The Matching Grant Facility (MGF) is a sub-component of the World Bank-funded Growth and Competitiveness Program.  It seeks to confirm long-term sustainable job creation and income generation by providing enterprises in The Gambia with the necessary assistance to facilitate growth of their business in a planned, business-savvy manner.

RENEWED PROSPECTS FOR FOOD SECURITY

AS WOMEN EXHIBIT BENEFITS DERIVED FROM FAO’S FOOD SECURITY PROJECT

The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) has renewed and reinforced the prospects of The Gambia attaining her food self-sufficiency aspirations through a two-year project dubbed Food Security Commercialization of Agriculture (FSCA) funded by the Italian government to the tune of US$2 million.

The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) has rolled out a two-year US$2M food project called Food Security Commercialization of Agriculture (FSCA), to support the development of The Gambia’s agriculture and transform it into a modern, competitive and commercially vibrant sector.
Funded by the Italian government to the tune of US$2 million, the project aims at alleviating food insecurity through the commercialization of agriculture, said Amie Jallow, programme coordinator of the FSCA.

BUY LOCALLY PRODUCED GOODS CONTRIBUTE TO POVERTY ALLEVIATION - SAYS PRESIDENTJAMMEH

Officially launching the fifth edition of the Gambia International Biennial Trade Fair, President-elect Yahya Jammeh has called on Gambians to patronise homemade products and services saying in doing so each and everyone will be directly and indirectly contributing to wealth creation and poverty reduction in the country.

“This also ties perfectly well with my persistent call for Gambians to produce what we need and to eat what we produce,” the Gambian leader said at the weekend on the official opening of the trade fair on the theme “Made in the Gambia products and services” held by the Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) at the Independent Stadium in Bakau.

GIABA CALLS FOR REGIONAL FRAMEWORK FOR CRIMINAL ASSET RECOVERY

The Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA) has urged member countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to institute framework for criminal asset recovery.

This call was made at the recently concluded three-day regional workshop on criminal asset recovery. The workshop, which took place on 12 through 14 December 2011, was held at the National Assembly Complex in Praia, Cape Verde.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, the Director General of GIABA, Dr Abdullahi Shehu, represented by GIABA’s Director of Programmes and Projects Dr Buno Nduka, expressed concern that there are inadequate legal and institutional frameworks in West African countries to ensure that proceeds of crimes are forfeited, seized and recovered.

His words: “The absence of the necessary legal and institutional frameworks and mechanisms that facilitate the detection, prevention and deterrence of economic and financial crime often allow criminals to hide the proceeds of their crimes either in the country where the criminal activity was committed or abroad – thus, assisting criminals to conceal, disguise the source, ownership, control and movement of crimes thereby lowering the chances of detection.”

Monday, December 12, 2011

PRESS RELEASE: GIABA Organises Regional Seminar on Criminal Asset Recovery

The Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA) is organising a Regional Seminar on Criminal Asset Recovery from 12 to14 December, 2011 at the National Assembly in Praia, Cape Verde.

The objective of the Seminar is to bring together stakeholders involved in the implementation of anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism measures in GIABA member States to deliberate on the need to deprive criminals of the benefits of their criminal activities through the recovery of proceeds of crime and stolen assets.

Gambia Revenue Signals Downward Trend while Expenditure Increases

By all indicators, The Gambia government revenue performance has signaled a downward trend over the years while expenditure has continued to increase giving rise to budget deficit that continues to swell year on year.
The country’s fiscal performance has continued to be challenged by higher-than-projected expenditures by the government that is un-matched by the country’s revenue performance.

Hon. Njie, Minister of Finace
In light of this, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs has said it will widen the tax base to reverse the current decline in revenue and reduce the deficit to the target that will allow sustainable growth in the economy.

“Such measures include broaden the tax base, enhance tax payers’ compliance, and reducing the maximum tax rate,” Hon. Mamburay Njie, Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs (MOFEA), said recently at the National Assembly while tabling the draft 2012 estimates of revenue and expenditure including the development expenditure of the government for the fiscal year January 1 to December 31, 2012.

Are 13 Banks Too Many for Gambia?

Bankers divided in opinion

The question of whether 13 banks in The Gambia are too many for The Gambia with about 1.8 million people (2010 estimates) is hot in the hearts and minds of many people, especially financial players and banking practitioners in the country, who have divergent views over the issue.

The influx of banks in the country over the years has made the country a highly competitive financial sector in Africa.

With a banking population of less than 25% of about 1.8 million people, it is just normal that concerns are raised on whether 13 banks is not too much for the system, which is why some senior  bank officials continue to make viable comments on the issue, with some nursing the view that “Gambia is too small for 13 banks”.

Dodou Nyang, Sales and Marketing Manager of Trust Bank
For instance, Trust Bank Sales and Marketing Manager Dodou Nyang is reported to have said that The Gambia is too small for 13 commercial banks, hence making the country the most competitive banking country in Africa.

This is partly responsible for the failure or bad performance of some banks in the last two years, says Mr Nyang, who is of the view that in the next two to three years, there would be more bank failures “because the country is too small for 13 banks”. 
“Inevitably, the Gambian banking industry will be reduced to may be seven, six, or eight banks at the most in the next five years,” Mr Nyang said.

Supermarkets, hotels 'refuse' to sell homemade foodstuffs

The Gambia Association of Food Processors has accused supermarkets and hotels in the country of trying to put them out of business by refusing to sell locally processed foodstuffs.

The secretary general of the association said the growth of the business of food and juice processing in The Gambia is at a standstill because “there are too much bottlenecks in carrying out their trade, key among them is the refusal by supermarkets and most hotels in the country to sell Gambian-made foodstuffs.

Isaac Thomas, Food Processors SG
In an interview with Gambia News Online, Isaac Thomas, Chief Executive Officer of Gamjuice, a local juice processing firm, said most of the supermarkets refuse to trade in foodstuffs locally produced. 

Most of them (supermarkets) do not even have a space to sell Gambian foodstuffs because there is usually no special shelf for Gambian products, he said.

A common reason given by the supermarkets for refusing to sell homemade products is that they don’t have ready-made cash to buy the products, Mr Thomas said.

National Bureau Augments Understanding of Insurance Practitioners on Ecowas Brown Card

The Gambia National Bureau of Ecowas Brown Card Scheme last week held a two day seminar geared towards augmenting and reinforcing understanding of participants about the Ecowas Brown Card Insurance Scheme with the ultimate aim of acquainting them with the new secured brown card, which will take effect on 1st January 2012.

The training, which started on 1st December at the secretariat of the Insurance Association of the Gambia (IAG) in Banjul, brought together motor and claims managers of member companies of the IAG and it availed them the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the new brown card in preparation of its introduction.

The Brown Card
“Training is designed to acquaint motor and claims managers with the Ecowas Brown Card Insurance Scheme because these are the people who deal with the public as they are the ones who sell the card and handle claims that come in,” said Ebou L Bittaye, Chairman of the Gambia National Bureau.

Gambia's Biennial Trade Fair Commences

The 5th biennial trade fair of the Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), which runs for about two weeks at the Independent Stadium in Bakau, commenced on 8 December and officially opened by the Vice President of the country, Dr Aja Isatou Njie-Saidy.

The trade fair is held to bring wide range of economic operators into close contacts to build effective partnerships that will positively impact on development of the private sector towards sustainable growth and development.

Speaking at a press conference held at the GCCI office on Kairaba Avenue recently, Almamy Taal, Chief Executive Officer of GCCI, said the theme of the 11-day event is “Promoting Made in The Gambia”.

Explaining the rationale behind choosing such a theme, Mr Taal said: “We are trying to see how best we can help our members to make products that are not only fit for local consumption but are also good enough to compete in the international market.”

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Heavy Tax Burden, Imported Goods Killing Local Industries

The heavy tax burden on local manufacturing companies in The Gambia and the dumping of cheap imported goods in the country is ravaging and virtually killing the local industry, manufacturers in the country have lamented.

Taxes are a big burden on local manufacturers in The Gambia
Some member companies of the Gambia Manufacturers Association (GMA) told Gambia News Online that the number of taxes imposed on them is enough to put them out of business, especially at a time when they have very low sales as they find it very difficult for their locally produced goods to find a mark in the country’s market which is flooded with imported goods at a cheaper price than locally produced ones. 

“The key issue affecting Gambian manufacturing companies is the heavy tax and the stiff competition from the imported goods,” said Saja Sambou of Gambega, a member company of Gambia Manufacturers Association (GMA). 

“We are paying so many taxes, and electricity cost is also high. In light of all this we face very intense competition from Brand B products.  By Brand B products, I mean imported goods; products that are being produced locally and a similar product is imported from somewhere and dumped into the market at cheap price.” 

Gambia’s economic growth slows down

The growth of The Gambia’s economy is projected to slow down from 6.1% in 2010 to 5.5% in 2011, according to the Central Bank of The Gambia.

The Gambia economy is experiencing increasing budget deficit as the government continues to spend more than its revenue. 

CBG Governor, Amadou Colley
According to the latest quarterly monetary report of the Central Bank of The Gambia (CBG), the deficit of the government has increased by almost D200 million.   CBG Governor Amadou Kolley said the overall budget balance, including grants, on commitment basis was a deficit of D714.50 million.  This is equivalent to 2.2 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and it is higher than a deficit of D530 equivalent to 1.8% of GDP in the corresponding year in 2010.

GDP is the total monetary value of all goods and services produced domestically in the country over a specified period.  The growth of GDP from one period to another is an indication of how healthy the country's economy is.

New Secured Ecowas Brown Card Takes Effect January 2012

Gambian motorists and travellers to Senegal and other West African countries have been called upon to take note of the newly updated and secured version of the ECOWAS Brown Card, which will come into effect on 1 January 2012, the Gambia National Bureau of the ECOWAS Brown card Insurance Scheme has stated.

Front Face of the New Secured Brown Card
The ECOWAS Brown Card allows the free movement of people and goods within the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).  The card provides compensation to victims of motor vehicle accidents, which may occur while travelling within the ECOWAS sub-region.  It also provides insurance cover for third-party liability risks relating to accidents resulting in death and /or bodily injury and property damage.

Back Side of the New Secured Card
According to Henry Jawo, secretary general of the Gambia National Bureau of the ECOWAS Brown Card Insurance Scheme, the rationale behind the introduction of the new card is because the old card was easily being forged, as many instances fake card have been discovered in the region. This necessitated the introduction of a new card with improved security features.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

GAMBIA IN A STATE OF ‘HIGH RISK OF DEBT DISTRESS’ IMF SAYS

Mr Dunn
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB) diligently carried out a ‘Debt Sustainability Analyses (DSA)’ that has cautioned the trend in which the economy and financial system of the country is faring.

The DSA is a formal framework developed by the IMF for conducting public and external debt sustainability analysis as a tool to better detect, prevent, and resolve potential crises. It looks at the evolutions of government debt over the next twenty years and it is based on long-ranged projections of government borrowing needs.

According to David Dunn, Chief of IMF mission to The Gambia, “The Gambia is classified as being high risk of debt distress at the moment based on a debt sustainability analyses by the IMF and WB.”

Monday, October 31, 2011

Ecobank Employee Dragged to Court for Fiddling Clients’ Accounts

Victoria Mendy, a former employee of Ecobank, was on Monday dragged to the Kanifing Magistrates’ Court, presided over by Magistrate Alagbe, for allegedly fiddling accounts and squandering funds of customers of the bank.

When the case was called for hearing, one Lamin Sanyang, who identified himself at the court as a resident of Lamin and works at Ecobank Gambia Limited head office on Kairaba Avenue as Head of Operations and Technology.

Mr Sanyang said the fraudulent act took place from 1 August 2010 to 17 January 2011.
He told the court that sometime in December 2010, a customer of the bank by the name Francis Hary Faye, complained that there were some unauthorised withdrawals from his account. “It was at this point that Mr Faye, Torres Sarr-Tupan - our legal person, and I had a meeting,” he said.

GTBank MD leaves Gambia with mixed feelings

The outgoing managing director of Guaranty Trust Bank, Olalekan Sanusi, has left The Gambia with mixed feelings after spending more than five years at GTBank’s helm of affairs in the country.

[L - R] Mr Sanusi shakes hand with Mr Omotoso (new GTBank MD)
“It is with mixed feelings that I will be leaving The Gambia. Mixed feelings because it is a place I have stayed for five and half years - and it is a place I like. I have fallen in love with The Gambia already,” Mr Sanusi.
Speaking at the party organised by the bank to bid him farewell as well welcome his successor, Mr Sanusi expressed delight that under his leadership the bank was able to produce very sound results.

Mr Sanusi came to The Gambia as managing director of GTBank in February 2006 succeeding Mr Richards, who has now retired. 

Sanusi is expected to move Ghana, where he would serve as the managing director of GTBank Ghana, the 
second largest subsidiary of GTBank outside Nigeria.  He has already been succeeded by Mr Olufemi Omotoso, who was the managing director of GTBank Liberia.

Achievements by GTbank Gambia under Mr Sanusi

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The YJAG Example Should Be Emulated

The Young Journalists Association of The Gambia, in short, YJAG has undoubtedly proven to be one of the most viable media organisations in the country.

Since inception, this body of dedicated and committed young media practitioners, some of whom infact hold key positions in their various newsrooms, has implemented  series of significant programmes geared towards creating a better working  environment for its members in particular and enhancing Gambian journalism, in general.

Notable, among its many accomplishments has been the training of its members and even non-members on journalism related subjects ranging from environment to laws governing media work in The Gambia.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

YJAG reminds Justice Minister of unfulfilled promise

The Young Journalists of The Gambia (YJAG) has reminded the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Edward Gomez, of a pledge he made to them more than one year ago which he is yet to fulfill.

At the 4th anniversary celebration, which also marks the 2nd biennial congress of YJAG, held on Saturday at the Kanifing Municipal Council multi-purpose centre in Kanifing, from the outgoing president, the secretary general and to the treasurer of YJAG all re-echoed in their report that the Justice Minister still did not honour the pledged he made since February 2010 to give the association ten thousand dalasis (D10,000).

Justice Minister Gomez
“Until today, we have not received that D10, 000 pledge, despite several efforts made to remind him about it,” said Assan Sallah, the former president of YJAG, while delivering his statement on the occasion.

“Therefore I will use this opportunity to again remind the Honourable Minister of Justice of his pledge to YJAG,” Mr Sallah added.

“It is worth noting that more than one year on, the promise is still in the pipeline, so for the benefit of our members who think it has went to the pockets of the executive that is not the case,” said the former assistant secretary general of YJAG, Modou S Joof, who is now the president, while delivering the 2009 – 2011 activity of the association.

The former treasurer, Haddija Jawara, also while giving the financial report of the association for the past two years, told the congress that the pledge by the Minister of Justice is yet to be fulfilled.

YJAG ACTIVITY REPORT 2009-2011

Prepared and presented by Mr Modou S. Joof, YJAG Assistant Secretary General, @ the 4th Anniversary and Congress of YJAG on October 22, 2011 @ the Kanifing Municipal Council Multipurpose Complex, Jimpex Road, Kanifing

Modou S. Joof
The outgoing executive came into being on September 16, 2009 during the first Congress of the Young Journalist Association of The Gambia (YJAG).

After observing democracy, the new executive continues to work under the action plan of the former executive. One of the activities it held in November 2009 was a “Climate Change Conference” funded by the World Wildlife Fund, through the Ministry of Forestry and the Environment.

The conference was designed to increase the knowledge of young journalists on climate change and its effects on the environment and the lives of the people. We believe that journalists can only report accurately topical issues of global concern when they are better understood.
With the climate change summit to be held in Copenhagen, Denmark a month later, the conference facilitated the creation of an organisation of youth groups across the country to converge on a follow-up conference: “A national consultative workshop on youth engagement on climate change” on December 3, 2010 and outlined issues of common concern for The Gambia youth delegation to present at the summit.   

Statement by YJAG Outgoing President At Association's 4th Year Aniversary

SPEECH BY ASSAN SALLAH, PRESIDENT OF YJAG ON THE 4th ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION OF THE ASSOCIATION HELD AT THE KMC MULTI-PURPOSE HALL, KANIFING ON OCTOBER 22ND, 2011.


Assan Sallah
Today marks an important milestone in the annals of the Young Journalists Association of The Gambia. As we celebrate our 4th anniversary which also coincided with the association’s 2nd Congress. I am therefore deeply honoured to give my welcome remarks in this important gathering.

Today is a moment of reflection on our achievements in the past for my executive as it marks the end of term for my executive and the beginning of a new term for the incoming executive. I also want to make it very clear that I am stepping down after serving as president of the association for two years and I will not contest for any position.

However, I would also want to assure the incoming executive that you have my support and can always count on me whenever the need arises. I will still be an honorary member and guide you in our drive to move the association forward.

Mr. Chairman
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen

Each year when we celebrate our anniversary, we choose a theme and discuss on it. The theme for this year’s celebration is; “the role of journalists in elections.”

The theme of the 4th anniversary is indeed timely as we are approaching the 2011 Presidential Elections by next month. May I also use the opportunity to inform this gathering that there will be a training on the role of journalists in elections for members of the association which will be held today immediately after the opening ceremony.

Mr. Chairman
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen

You will all agree with me that elections are the cornerstone of any democracy and the media has a vital role in informing the public about what the politicians are promising and to tell the politicians what ordinary people want, or they do not want, as well as ensuring that elections are free and fair. Therefore the importance of the proposed training on election reporting is also very important.

Regional cooperation key to successful anti-terrorism fight – GIABA

Director General of the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa, Dr. Abdullahi Shehu has called on countries of the West African region to deepen technical cooperation and expertise in the fight against terrorism in the region.

Dr Shehu
Dr. Shehu said this in New York while addressing the meeting of the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) as part of activities marking the 10th anniversary of the adoption of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1373 (2001).

Resolution 1373 requires all States to take a series of measures to counter terrorism. These include securing borders, tightening financial controls and cooperating with other countries to ensure terrorists are brought to justice.

According to Dr. Shehu, there are still weaknesses and gaps related to deficiencies in the national legal framework and inadequate national coordination and collaboration between competent authorities. He noted that some ECOWAS Member States do not have laws which adequately criminalize terrorist financing, and where such laws exit, there was little or no regulation or procedure in place to ensure appropriate freezing, seizure and confiscation of terrorist funds.

He further said that there was lack of regional and international cooperation as inter-country operational cooperation is still being forged at a slow pace even though political and policy direction on AML/CFT has been achieved in the region.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Gambia News Online Publisher Elected YJAG Secretary General

Mr Jahateh
An association of young journalists in The Gambia had unanimously elected, Lamin Jahateh, editor and publisher of Gambia News Online, an online blog, as their secretary general.

It was the second biennial congress of the Young Journalists of The Gambia (YJAG) which also marks the 4th year anniversary of the association and held at the Kanifing Municipal Council Multi-purpose Centre along Jimpex Road in Kanifing, on Saturday.  During the congress, members of the association elected new executive members to steer the affairs of the association for the next two years. 

The theme for this year’s anniversary was ‘the role of journalists in elections’, because the presidential election of The Gambia, slated for November 24th this year, is fast approaching.

The publisher of the online blog, which is dedicated to providing up-to-date happenings with particular emphasis on business news, features and analysis, was elected unopposed for the position of secretary general as members of the association are aware of his dedication and commitment to the development of the association.

Mr Jahateh, also the deputy news editor of MarketPlace Magazine, was elected alongside seven other members to replace the Assan Sallah led executive who were at the helm of affairs of the association for the past two years.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Commonwealth Deputy Secretary-General to visit The Gambia ahead of November elections


Mrs Masire-Mwamba
Commonwealth Deputy Secretary-General Mmasekgoa Masire- Mwamba will visit The Gambia from 18 to 20 October 2011 for consultations ahead of the country’s polls next month.
 
While in Banjul, Mrs Masire-Mwamba, a national of Botswana, will meet senior government officials, leaders of political parties, representatives of civil society, members of the election management body, the media and other stakeholders.
 
“My visit to The Gambia is meant to demonstrate the commitment of the Commonwealth to support democratic processes in member countries,” Mrs Masire-Mwamba said.
 
“Elections lie at the heart of democracy. The conduct of credible and peaceful elections requires the full and unrestricted participation of all the key actors and the electorate. Those vying to represent the people of the country should be permitted to compete on a level playing field. Everyone needs to have the national interest at heart and behave with dignity and responsibility.”
 
She will be accompanied by the head of Africa Political Affairs Section, at the Commonwealth, Nigeria born, Ambassador Ayodele Oke.
The Commonwealth Secretariat has worked with the Government of The Gambia on a number of activities, including support to the judiciary, enterprise development, and tourism and media development.
 

Gambian products rejected from entry into EU market for poor quality

Some Gambian products such as groundnuts and fishery products, which are the country’s main export products, are rejected from entry into the European Union market for not meeting the required standards, the Minister of Trade, Regional Integration and Employment has revealed.

Hon Kolley, Minister of Trade
 “The country’s competitiveness in both local and international trade is at stake, especially if no concrete actions are taken to address these issues in a more systematic manner,” the Trade Minister, Hon. Abdou Kolley, said in a statement read on his behalf by his deputy permanent secretary, Mr Ceesay, during a daylong exhibition of made-in-Gambia held at the premises of Ministry of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment (MOTIE) on Tuesday.

The event, organized by MOTIE in collaboration with the West Africa Quality Programme and Enhanced Integrated Framework, was part of series of activities marking this year’s celebration of World Standards Day, commemorated on the 14th October.

Monday, October 17, 2011

West Africa looks to interest-free banking

As interest-free (Islamic) banking has emerged and evolved as a viable and competitive component of the overall financial system to drive growth and development, West Africa is now promoting its principles for people of the sub-region to have broad understanding of its operations so as to embrace it.

Islamic banking or interest-free banking is a banking model which is based on profit and loss sharing system.  In this dispensation, the customer and the bank share the risk of any investment on agreed terms, and divide any profits that accrue from there. 

In cognizant of the fact that there has been significant growth in Islamic financial services in recent years and experts forecast that this growth will continue at a rapid pace, the West African Institute for Financial and Economic Management (WAIFEM), on Monday started a weeklong training on rudiments of interest free (Islamic) banking at Paradise Suites Hotel in Kololi.

The training brought together participants from different countries in the sub-region including Gambia, Ghana, and Nigeria.  It was organized to provide participants with a broad understanding on rudiments of Islamic banking as well as provide clarity on ‘Shariah’ (principles of Islamic law) requirements and the avoidance of interest in modern day banking business.

Consumer Parliament: Questions rain down on NAWEC

At the forth consumer parliament recently held in Banjul, more than 90 per cent of the questions were directed to the National Water and Electricity Company Limited and most of the questions were based on the frequent un-notified electricity outage in the country.

NAWEC staff present at the forum were under fire as questions came from different corners of the hall as soon as the moderator of the event, Peter Gomez, declared the floor opened for questions to the services providers.

The consumer parliament was organized by the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) to bring consumers of communications, electricity, water and sewerage services face-to-face with the operators to express their views, concerns and complaints to them. The forum, held in Banjul, was the fourth of its kind.
The issue of NAWEC has been a pain in the neck of many Gambians, both corporate and ordinary people as the frequent un-notified power outage in the country has left a bad taste in the mouth of many people.

New FEWACCI president to push for barrier-free trade in W/Africa

Mr Drammeh, new FEWACCI President
The newly elected president of the Federation of West African Chambers of Commerce and Industry is poised to undertake an initiative that will remove the various barriers placed in the way of regional trade and development in West Africa. 

The Gambia’s Bai Matarr Drammeh, who was recently elected as president of the Federation of West African Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FEWACCI), has said his topmost priority is to promote the free flow of goods as well as movement of people, which is in line with the ECOWAS Commission’s vision of enhancing private sector growth in the region.

“My number one priority which I am embarking on right now is to push for the realization of a sea link project,” said Mr Drammeh, who was elected at the 2nd Annual General Meeting of FEWACCI, held in Cotonou, Benin, in September this year.

GTBank rewards high-spending customers

GTBank MD, Mr Omotoso, presenting prize to one of the lucky winners
Guaranty Trust Bank (Gambia) on Thursday held its first raffle draw to rewards customers with Visa Card who spent at least D50, 000 in a month.

 “This is the first draw in this promotion,” the new managing director of GTBank, Femi Omotoso, said during the draw held at the bank’s Jimpex branch.

MD Omotoso said the promotion, dubbed ‘Visa Card 2011 Summer Promotion’, runs from July through September this year, and was designed for the bank to say ‘thank you’ to its visa card customers. 
During the draw, six prizes were given in two sets.  The first three set of winners were the ones who spent at least D50,000 using their visa card from 15th July to 15th August.  The lucky winners of that draw were: Afolabi Isiaolugbola, who won a GTSave account; Awada Enterprise, won visa card with D5,000 credit; and Karim Sati Rahmoni, won a dinner for two at Coco Ocean Hotel and Spa.

The second set of winners were the once who spent a minimum of D50,000 between 16th August to 15th September.  The winners were EH Farage won GTSave; Pass Trading won visa card with D5,000 credit, and Ebenizar Owuey won the dinner for two at Coco Oceans.

Marche Jula: GCCI to stage exhibition of made-in-Gambia

The Gambia Chambers of Commerce and Industry is to stage its first edition of “Marrseh Jula” where small and medium size enterprises in the country will have the chances to exhibit their products.

The event, to be held at Buffer Zone in Tallinding from 28th to 30th October this year, will showcase locally made products hence promoting made-in- the Gambia  as well as and draw a lot of attention to local goods which may be hitherto unknown.   It will also give business exposure to the small and medium enterprises most of whom may not afford the register to a trade fair.

“This is the first edition of ‘Marrseh Jula,’” said Almamy Taal, Chief Executive Officer of the GCCI during a press conference held on Wednesday at its office along Kairaba Avenue.