Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Banjul Tourist Market threatened with bulldozers - DEVELOPING

As we write this piece, there's a source on the phone reporting that agents of the regime are at the ready, armed with bulldozers, threatening to bring down tourists stalls of hard-working Gambian women at the Banjul Tourist Market.

The reason advanced by these agents, who appear to be from the Gambia Revenue Agency (GRA), was that these hard-working women, and some men, who eke out a living in these difficult and lean years, have outstanding tax arrears.  It is a claim that these women have disputed.

The stall-keepers were confronted by GRA agents who claim outstanding tax arrears covering the period 2011 - 2013.  According to the tourist market women, they have been paying rent and license fees to the Gambia Tourist Board (GTB) in accordance with current law.

The stall-keepers refuse to pay any income tax because they've not been officially assessed by the competent authorities and they have never been notified of owing income tax.

As at this moment, the women and the agents in tow, are on their way to the GRA and/or GTB offices to verify the claims.  This problem is the flip side of the "double taxation" problem that Lie Bah, Mayor of Banjul and yankuba Kolley, Mayor of Kanifing complained about which will land both in trouble soon.

Gambians have come to dread the GRA as the National Intelligence Agency (NIA).  Within its short history, the GRA has developed a terrible reputation of using gestapo-style tactics that resembles the NIA.  In face, the GRA is now to business and economic development and the NIA is to human rights.

These two agencies have become synonymous with repression of the human rights and the free enterprise kind with both succeeding in driving the best people Gambia has on offer and investors (both foreign and domestic) out of the Gambia and out of business.  Both of these agencies should be dismantled at the first opportunity in a new political dispensation.