Minority leader critical of high prices GCC Chairman explains……

By Muhammad Bah

The Minority leader and Member for Niamina Dankunku, Hon. Samba Jallow, and New National Assembly BuildingHon. Nominated Member Babu Gaye Sonko have expressed critical views on high prices in the country.

They made their comments on Tuesday 13 January, 2015 at the National Assembly in Banjul during the sittings of the joint committee of the Public Accounts and Public Enterprise Committees. The joint committee was at the time scrutinizing the performance of the Gambia Competition Commission (GCC) in 2013.

“This is the only country in the world where prices will rise and never come down,” Hon. Samba Jallow remarked. He said the prices of basic commodities like rice and sugar have never come down since they started escalating.

He further said that while fuel prices have decreased drastically in the world market in this country the prices have not gone down. He added that this is a big concern for the people and that it is time for the authorities to look into this serious matter.

He went on to indicate that the price of cement in Senegal is lower than the price in the Gambia while the cement sold in Senegal is of better quality.

Nominated Member Babu Gaye Sonko in his intervention supported the minority leader’s comments. He pointed out that the country used to have a price regulatory body which was dissolved for not being in conformity with IMF policy. He then asked what the current strategy to help the people is since the institutions that regulate prices are no longer in place.

The Chairman Board of Directors of the GCC, Alhagie T.S. Njie, in front of PAC/PEC Committee for scrutiny regarding his institution performance in 2013, highlighted the problems related to price instability in the Gambia. He said it is coined by several factors, among them is the government fiscal policy which has a problem and needs to be reviewed. He added that other factors include the exchange rates of the country, the dalasi depreciation against the major international currencies including the CFA. He said for example the fuel prices among others are all basically a policy problem, adding the Gambia government and the Central Bank should work together to addressing this problem.