Tuesday, June 26, 2012
The Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA) will hold a sensitization seminar on Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Counter-Financing of Terrorism (CFT) for journalists from English-speaking countries of West Africa between Thursday 28 June and Friday 29 June, 2012 in Banjul, The Gambia.
The objectives of the seminar are to (i) expose journalists to the knowledge of AML/CFT framework; (ii) to assist participants to produce reports and articles/features of quality on AML/CFT issues; and (iii) improve the network of journalists who will assist GIABA in disseminating information on the AML/CFT systems in West Africa.
Specifically, the seminar is to build strong alliance with the media for effective dissemination of AML/CFT messages and to improve the network among journalists in promoting the implementation of effective AML/CFT regimes in the region.
The 2-day seminar targeted at economic and financial issues reporters from Anglophone ECOWAS Member States is the 5th edition of such training seminar on AML/CFT for media practitioners from ECOWAS Countries.
The decision to strengthen the capacity of media professionals in the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing is justified by the fact that the media are an efficient means to reach a wide audience about the deleterious effects of money laundering and terrorist financing.
The Gambia is set to upgrade its ‘deficient’ anti-money laundering and terrorism financing laws with a view to bringing it in line with international standards, the MarketPlace Newspaper has revealed.
According to parliamentary sources, as part of the second meeting of the National Assembly in the 2012 Legislative Year (from 18 to 28 June 2012), Finance and Economic Affairs Minister Abdou Kolley, on 27 June, shall lay before the National Assembly the Anti-Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism Bill 2012 for ratification by the country’s lawmakers.
|Finance Minister Abdou Kolley|
The passage of this bill is part of government’s efforts at beefing up its machinery by putting in place appropriate and standard legislation to combat money laundering and terrorist financing to prevent the country’s financial system from being misused as a channel for the transfer and retention of illicit funds.
The previous Anti-Money Laundering law of The Gambia is below standard as it designated only 13 predicate offences for money laundering. This falls short of the minimum 20 designated categories under the recommendation of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which is the principal international standard body setting on money laundering and terrorist financing.
In this vein, the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing (GIABA) - an arm of ECOWAS responsible for the prevention and control of money laundering and terrorist financing in West Africa - has been urging the Gambian authorities to amend and pass a standard anti-money laundering legislation. Getting the Anti-Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism Bill 2012 passed will serve as a testimony that the Gambia government has paid heed to GIABA’s call and that the negotiation leading to actualizing the bill was fruitful.
Labels: Gambia money laundry, Gambia the Anti-Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism Bill 2012, GIABA
|L to R - Bubacarr Badjie, production manager; and Bakary Jawara, CEO|
A paint manufacturing company that produces quality international standard paint has been set up in The Gambia by two indigenes who returned home after living abroad for several years.
Tinnin Paints Limited is an indigene-owned paint manufacturing company established by Bakary Jawara and Bubacarr Badgie, with an initial investment of €200,000, equivalent to more than D7.5 million. The factory produces different types of water-based paint, ideal for both interior and exterior designs.
In an interview with this paper, Bubacarr Badjie, production manager of Tinnin Paints, said their company manufactures six different kinds of paint for different uses: “First of all, we have the Premier, which is undercoat paint. We have the Premium, an interior design paint, and we have the Supreme, ideal for both interior and exterior uses.
“We also have the Deluxe, ideal for both interior and exterior and it can be applied on metal as well because when it dries it is as solid as oil paint. “We have the Deluxe Gloss, which is also stronger than the Deluxe because it gives you that shiny effect and even when scratched, it would not pill off because it’s so slippery that if anything happens to touch it, it will not scratch.”
The Gambia Investment and Export Promotion Agency has been given additional task to provide services to the micro, small and medium-sized enterprises to get access to finance, Kebba Touray, Minister of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment, has said.
|Trade Minister Kebba Touray|
The Agency, whose main tasks include promoting and facilitating investment, business and export development in the country, is also mandated to provide small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) with business development services to sustain their growth and development.
This has followed the dissolution of the Indigenous Business Advisory Services (IBAS), a government institution established to provide aid and support, as well as serve as an impetus, to indigenous small and medium-sized enterprises in the country.
This revelation was made on Tuesday during the question-and-answer session of the second meeting of the National Assembly in the 2012 Legislative Year.
The trade minister’s statement was prompted by a question posed by the National Assembly Member for Janjanbureh, Foday Jibani Manka, who asked the minister to “inform this Assembly the current service of this institution (IBAS) and its effectiveness, to be able to strengthen and promote a dynamic enterprise culture providing necessary ingredients which will accelerate socio-economic growth for Gambians, particularly for unemployed youths”.
The National Water and Electricity Company Limited is to received US$12 million, equivalent to more than D336 million, for a project to upstage the Kotu Power Station with a view to providing the population, particularly unconnected communities, with an “affordable and consistent” supply of electricity.
“At least 500,000 people will benefit from the upgraded Kotu Power Station,” a statement issued on Monday by the governing board of OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID), which provides funding for the project, has said.
The multi-million dollar project, approved at the 139th session of the governing board of OFID held in the Austrian capital Vienna, is part of the 13 loans and grants totaling nearly US$66 million that the OFID board has approved to cover development projects in agriculture, education, energy, transportation and water supply sectors in over 34 countries six of which are in Africa, including The Gambia, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Guinea.
According to the statement, a US$5 million loan will be injected in a rice cultivation project in Masina in the DRC to help reduce poverty and boost food security through the expansion of an irrigation network and construction of agricultural infrastructure. The project will benefit close to 10 million inhabitants near the capital of Kinshasa.
The Gambia’s National Assembly Members Tuesday adopted motions establishing ‘Parliamentary Friendship Association’ with Ivory Coast and Turkey to further strengthen bilateral relations with these countries.
Turbo-Gambian Parliamentary Friendship Association and Ivory Coast-Gambia Parliamentary Association have been established to strengthen parliamentary friendship and cooperation among these countries.
It is in recognition of this and many other fruitful ties in recent history that both countries decided to establish the friendship association.
Hon. Ablie Suku Singhateh, National Assembly member for Lower Badibu, said The Gambia and Ivory Coast are almost of the same people and share a lot in common.
“It is therefore my fervent belief that the establishment of this association between our two Assemblies shall further strengthen our ties and promote unity among the citizens of our two countries and as well promote sub-regional integration,” the Lower Badibu NAM remarked.
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
|Dodou Nyang frowned at the GGCI decision|
At its 2011 Annual Business Awards and Gala Dinner held on 1 June this year at the Coco Ocean Resort and Spa to recognize and award economic operators for their remarkable performance in business, the GCCI crowned Guaranty Trust Bank Gambia Limited as the Bank of the Year for 2011, from the category of competitors including Ecobank and Trust Bank Gambia Limited.
But Mr Nyang of Trust Bank feels the award should have been given to his bank because Trust Bank “performed better than all the other banks in the country put together”.
Going by the criteria set by the GCCI to determine the Bank of the Year, the award should be given to a bank with a significant amount of investment in the production, development and employment of the economy; good customer service ratings; profitability year on year; cost/income ratio; good return on equity; return on asset; sound balance sheet size year on year; loans to agricultural investments; compliance with taxes and social security contributions; and corporate social responsibility towards agriculture.
Some legal practitioners in the country have been found wanting in meeting tax obligations to government through greatly undervaluing their earnings to evade full tax payment.
The latest report of the Commission of Inquiry into Tax Evasion and other Corrupt Practices has revealed that just ten lawyers have denied the government more than D20.7 million in revenue, an amount they should have paid as tax but failed to do as a result of under-declaration of income earned.
After four months of investigations, the Tax Commission has revealed that most of the people found wanton were greatly under-declaring their income earned over the years, with many lawyers falling under this category.
Justice Mama Fatima Singhateh, chairperson of the Commission, explained how the Commission came to this conclusion. “Our methodology for reaching this conclusion is based on their seniority at the bar and their fair market value (as defined in Section 4 of the Income and Sales Tax Act) of the services provided in this field.
The private sector in most African countries plays critical role to helping the continent reach its full economic and social potential, according to the latest African Development Report published by the African Development Bank (AfDB) in May 2012.
The sector is now poised to become the main engine of growth for the African continent, after being hamstrung for decades by difficult political and economic conditions and burdensome government policies, AfDB president Donald Kaberuka says in the report which examines the challenges facing the sector’s development and highlights ways to address these challenges, taking country differences into account.
“The African Development Bank is committed to addressing the constraints of private sector development, Mr Kaberuka said, adding: “We believe that private sector development is fundamental for creating inclusive growth through employment creation.”
Monday, June 11, 2012
Senor Thomas-Sowe, managing director of International Insurance Company, has said her company is a force to be reckoned with in the insurance industry of The Gambia as it strives hard to meet customer-satisfaction through timely claims settlement as well as maintaining the highest capitalized insurance entity in the country.
|Senor Thomas, shorting after receiving the award|
Mrs Thomas-Sowe, whose company has won the first ever insurance award of the Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry at its 19th awards ceremony held on June 1 at the Coco Ocean Resort and Spa in Bijilo, has commended the private sector apex body for recognizing the insurance industry of The Gambia.
Timely settlement of claims, corporate social responsibility especially towards agriculture, compliance with taxes and social security contributions, and good customer service ratings have contributed to placing IIC at the forefront of insurance companies in the country, which is why the company has been crowned Insurance Company of the Year.
“I felt great when I was first notified that IIC was one of the companies nominated for the ‘Insurance Company of the Year’ award, because just the nomination alone is an achievement, for the fact that this is the first time the GCCI has awarded the best insurance company,” said Mrs Thomas-Sowe, in an interview with MartketPlace.
“For IIC to be shortlisted for that award means something, and I was very excited and praying that we win. However, I was confident that we will emerge as the winner because looking at the other two nominees, I was sure that we will come out as the winner of the award.”
The IIC was shortlisted alongside Global Security Insurance Company and Takaful Insurance, the only Shariah compliance insurance company in The Gambia and West Africa.
“We have an edge over all these companies because today IIC is the highest capitalised insurance company in The Gambia; that is why we are the only insurance company in The Gambia that can underwrite both life and non-life insurance,” said Mrs Thomas, who became the managing director of IIC in 2003 at a very young age.
The secret behind IIC’s growth and success over the years can be traced to several corporate factors but two stand out prominent: these are the company’s financial strength and its quality of staff.
“I have a very strong team. I can confidently say that in the whole insurance market, the staff I have are the best. They are all young, because if you look at the average age of my staff it is between 25 and 28, but they are all committed and hardworking. This is so because the institution values human resource. We spent huge amount of money on training our staff because we believe that a well trained staff is key for the success of any company. We do also motivate our staff so that they can work hard, and - thank God - today IIC staff are the best in the insurance industry.”
The cultured insurer, who has served as president of the West African Insurance Association, also said: “Another thing that has made us to stand out is the financial strength of the company, thanks to the support of the board of directors.
“Today IIC is the highest capitalised insurance company in The Gambia; that is why we can underwrite both non-life and life [insurance]. This is possible with the support we have from the board of directors who are always there for us, giving us an exceptional support that we need to excel.”
With these values, Mrs Thomas said, despite the intense competition in the insurance industry, IIC is able to stand out as a force to be reckoned with.
Claims settlement is a key criterion of the GCCI for any company to win the insurance award, since insurance companies in the country are frequently accused of dodging the payment of claims.
With respect to IIC, timely payment of all valid claims is a key principle of the company. “We pay claims on time and our customers know us for that; when we receive a claim that is valid, we pay it as soon as possible,” Mrs Thomas, who has also served as president of the Insurance Association of The Gambia, said.
Some people have the “erroneous perception” that insurance companies do not pay claim, but the erudite insurance practitioner said insurance companies do settle claims. “It is just that when we settle claims people don’t know about it and when we don’t that is the time people talk about it,” she says.
“This is sometimes due to the fact that some people do not understand their policies very well. We know that is a challenge for the industry and we are working hard to increase people’s understanding about insurance.”
The Gambia insurance industry is perceived as a small market due to the size of the country but the fact remains that insurance contributes immensely to the economic growth and development of a nation, which is what the GCCI has realised, to ensure the industry is covered this time around in its annual business awards competition.
Mrs Thomas-Sowe again: “I really appreciate what the chamber has done because for the past years they have never given us (insurance companies) award; so this is something that is good for the industry as a whole, not IIC alone. This is because people will now know that insurance is part and parcel of the economy and it plays a huge role in the economic development of a country. So I am saying a big thank-you to the GCCI on behalf of the whole industry, not IIC alone.”
|Mrs Oumie Jah Ndow, head of marketing and business development of IIC|
As regards IIC’s expansion and challenge in the industry, Mrs Thomas said: “We have the biggest branch network. But we also have a big challenge because we have to maintain being on top all the time, which is a challenge, but we will definitely try our best to make sure that we continue to be the best.”
Oumie Jah Ndow, head of marketing and business development at IIC, said the award is dedicated to customers of the 12-year-old company, whose “future is very bright”.
“I want to thank all our customers who have supported us over the years because they have made us what we are today,” she remarked. “So we are dedicating this award to all of them.”
Friday, June 8, 2012
Sterling economic operators in The Gambia have been giving a shot in the arm for their excellent and remarkable performance in business in 2011, by the Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry at its 19th Annual Business Awards held at the Coco Ocean Resort and Spa on 1 June this year.
These are business concerns considered to have demonstrated core values of business excellence, product excellence, sustainability and commercial success in their various spheres of business operations.
The prestigious annual business awards night and gala dinner witnessed the presentation of the awards to the crème de le crème, best of the best businesses in the country in the following categories: Enterprise of the Year, Bank of the Year, Insurance Company of the Year, Manufacturing Company of the Year, Telecommunications Company of the Year, Start-up of the Year, Partner to the Business Community, Hotel of the Year, Restaurant of the Year, and Eco-Tourism Business of the Year.
The Enterprise of the Year award went to Lasting Solutions, a Gambian-owned company that specializes in all sorts of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) related products and services. The other nominees are BB Electrical and Scape.
This year Trust Bank Limited, the winner of the Bank of the Year award for the past five years, lost the award to Guaranty Trust Bank, thanks to the innovative and outstanding performance of the latter.
Thursday, June 7, 2012
World Bank Board of Executive Directors has approved US$6 million for The Gambia in grant financing by the International Development Association (IDA) that will provide urgently needed assistance to address 2011 - 2012 national crop failure in the country.
According to a statement from the World Bank’s Dakar Office, the funds is part of Gambia First Economic Governance and Reform Grant and the first in a series of two such Development Policy Grants covering 2012 to 2013.
The initiative will support the implementation of the country's Programme for Accelerated Growth and Employment (PAGE), which aims at improving the living conditions of the Gambian population by implementing cross-cutting reforms to diversify the economy and thereby reduce its vulnerability to external shocks.
“The full impact of the lower-than-expected harvest in The Gambia is now becoming apparent,” says Vera Songwe, World Bank Country Director for Gambia, Senegal, Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau and Mauritania.
Presently, 40 million of Africa’s youths are unemployed and this represents 60 per cent of the continent’s unemployed active labour force, the African Economic Outlook 2012, released on 31st May 2012.
The report says of these 40 million youths, 22 million have given up on finding a job, many of them women.
“Creating productive employment for Africa’s rapidly growing young population is an immense challenge but also the key to future prosperity”, the authors say in the foreword.
Co-written by the African Development Bank, the OECD Development Centre, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the report says youth are an opportunity for future economic growth.
Between 2000 and 2008, despite world-topping economic growth rates, and a better educated youth, Africa created only 16 million jobs for young people aged between 15 and 24.
“The continent is experiencing jobless growth,” said Mthuli Ncube, Chief Economist and Vice-President of the African Development Bank (AfDB). “That is an unacceptable reality on a continent with such an impressive pool of youth, talent and creativity”.
The report argues youth unemployment figures will increase unless Africa moves swiftly to make youth employment a priority, turning its human capital into economic opportunity. On the other hand, youths can present a significant threat to social cohesion and political stability if they do not secure decent living conditions.
|Mr Halifa Sallah|
European countries have continued to develop through the exploitation of African countries via unfair trade and use of the continent’s natural resources, says Halifa Sallah, as Africans at home and in the Diaspora marked African Liberation Day on 25 May this year.
At a symposium at Sir Dembo Nursery School in Bundung Borehole organised on 26 May by the Pan-African Forum to commemorate African Liberation Day, the veteran politician cum sociologist said: “For instance, The Gambia produces groundnut, Ghana produces cocoa, Kenya produces tea. So they (European countries) make sure that our people produce one crop, and sell it to them. They processed it into packets of tea, packets of cocoa, oil, etc and then come back and sell it to us (Africans). They also take our cotton and turned it into yarn and clothes and come and sell it to us.
“So they were getting the raw materials from Africa at very cheap prices and they were processing and selling it back to us at more expensive prices. Therefore, in our trade we were always getting less than we were spending - that is called trade deficit. It means that their economy would be going up and our economy collapsing. This is how they made us poorer and poorer and they became richer and richer.”
“From selling their (European) manufactured goods they make money and they take that money and invest it at a bank; so the banks started to collect a lot of capital. When the banks make enough money, they go there to get loan to be able to build industries and provide employment. Employment continues to increase as more and more industries are created; therefore jobs were growing in their parts of the world; that is why Africans are leaving our continent to go to Europe in search of greener pasture.”
The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has approved a new arrangement for The Gambia under the Extended Credit Facility (ECF) to the tune of about US$28.3 million.
This decision will enable an immediate disbursement equivalent to about US$14.2 million.
According to a statement from the IMF Banjul office on Monday, this is aimed at meeting an acute balance of payments need arising from the recent crop failure due to drought, and helping to catalyze support from development partners for The Gambia’s new poverty reduction strategy, the Programme for Accelerated Growth and Employment (PAGE).
Over the medium term, the IMF seeks to ease The Gambia’s heavy debt burden through fiscal adjustment, while implementing a strong economic reform agenda in support of the PAGE.
In the statement, Naoyuki Shinohara, IMF’s Deputy Managing Director, said the Gambian economy has made good progress in achieving strong growth and making a substantial reduction in poverty.
However, he said, major crop failure due to the drought has created hardship that calls for effective and timely delivery of assistance for the most vulnerable households.
“The Gambia’s heavy debt burden poses high costs for the government and risks for the economy,” Mr Shinohara said.
“To address this problem,” he continued, “the IMF's new ECF-supported program rightly focuses on fiscal adjustment to curb government's domestic borrowing. Limiting external borrowing to concessional loans is also necessary to reduce the risk of debt distress.”
Standard Chartered Bank, one of the leading banks in The Gambia in terms of financial indices, on Thursday gave some precious prizes to its customers, to stimulate, nurture and instill savings habits in them.
It was the third and first of three grand draws of SCB’s ‘With you all the way’ campaign, which started in February 2012 in which individual customers are rewarded for saving at least D10,000 into their accounts per month to stand a chance of winning any of the lofty and fabulous prizes given by the bank.
Held at the Standard Chartered Kairaba Branch, the three winners of the second monthly draw (held in April) received their prizes as follows: Yaya Conteh, a 6-month supply of free electricity; Adama Janneh, air-conditioning unit with free installation and free electricity bill for six months; and Ann Rivington, American-style side-by-side fridge freezer.
In a computer generated number raffle draw, Ansumana Camara stood out as the winner of the quarterly grand draw and as such could benefit from a scheme of food provision of about D10,000 per month starting from May to end of 2012.
“This is eight months of food provisions where every month the lucky customer can spend D10,000 on food, such as cooking oil, chicken, rice, and other food items,” said Olimatou Faal, corporate affairs officer of SCB Gambia.
The Gambia government has now finally secured a loan from the African Development Bank (AfDB) for the construction of the Trans-Gambia Bridge, which connects both North and South of The Gambia and Senegal as well as serves as an important transport linkage for the sub-region.
The African Development Bank (AfDB) and the government of the Gambia have signed an agreement for the financing of the Multinational TransGambia Bridge & Cross-Border Improvement Project to the tune of US$96.20 Million equivalent to Gambian Dalasis (GMD) 2,909.80 billion.
Analyst said the bride, when completed, will help to create free traffic flow between the northern and southern parts of the Gambia and Senegal in order to promote free movement of persons, goods and services between the two countries and other countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). This will bring to fruition plans which the governments of the Gambia and Senegal have for many years.
|Abdou Kolley, Gambia's Finance Minister|
Abdou Kolley, the Gambia’s Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, said in a statement issued by his ministry on Monday, that the construction of the bridge will allow free traffic flow between the northern and southern parts of both The Gambia and Senegal.
The project will therefore reduce travel time, boost trade and reinforce cohesion among communities which were previously isolated. It will also facilitate the transportation of agricultural products to markets reducing post-harvest losses and boosting socio-economic activities.
Monday, June 4, 2012
The advancement in science and technology has come with its downside as overwhelming majority of young people spend most of their time on the internet or watching television and are getting addicted to it on daily basis to the extent that they are losing the time to sit with their parents to learn from them some good cultural and traditional values.
The book, which is full of cultural lessons and moral values of the past, is aimed at educating and connecting the younger generation with the older one to the learn the good things of the past in order to aptly tackle the vicissitudes of the present and better prepare for the future.
In an exclusive interview, Mrs Cham said: “I was motivated to write this book because I observed that young people no longer have the vital connection with culture and tradition that my own generation enjoyed, as they (young people) spend most of their time browsing the internet or watching television.
The author, born in 1957 in a small village called Chamen in Lower Niumi District, said the wisdom availed to her generation in stories and proverbs has shaped their worldview and positioned them well for living in a very complex world.
“Nowadays young people in this generation do not know these stories and proverbs and I see this as a serious disconnection from their cultural roots,” said Mrs Cham, who serves as head teacher of Chamen Oakes Nursery School, in Chamen.
“As someone who was brought up in this way of life, I thought it wise to compile and publish these meaningful stories and proverbs for posterity, so that generations yet unborn can learn from them but not only for the sake of reading them, but also to learn from the moral and cultural lessons in each story and proverb.”
Messages contained in the book
|Mrs Matty Cham|
After reading each of the fifteen stories in the 56-page book, published by VINASHA Productions, the reader stands to gain a lot from its moral lessons.
Matty points out that the moral lessons gained from each story boil down to the way of life of Gambians - the culture, outlook, philosophy, etc of the people. Therefore, she said, all those who want to find their cultural roots are advised to read the book.
In the Forward of the book, Yamai Secka-Jack, the then Associate Director of Education - Peace Corps The Gambia, said the folktales in the book are both educating and entertaining.
“I am sure Gambians of all ages and foreigners wishing to learn more about The Gambia will enjoy reading them. Many of the stories remind me of stories my grandparents and uncles told me as a child and I am glad Mam Matty was able to document them.”