Speaking at the Taxpayers Award and Recognition Night, the Minister implored Gambians to pay their taxes and "recognized the need to celebrate the complaint taxpayer."
However, he went further by emphasizing the determination of the regime "to take a firm stance on the non-payment of taxes", a statement that would not have been ironical had it not been that the single biggest businessman in the country hardly pays any tax whatsoever.
That businessman is Yaya Jammeh, the Gambian dictator.
Public records show he owns the biggest businesses in the country, ranging from importation, distribution and retail of petroleum products to mining, farming and real estate, to name only a few, cost the public treasury hundreds of millions of dalasi annually.
As Chairman of the Provisional Ruling Council prior to exchanging his military fatigues for the grand boubou as 'civilian' leader, Jammeh ensured that the 1997 Constitution permits the new president to engage in "farming", a provision that was subsequently expanded to exclude nothing.
Jammeh pays little or no taxes and for this reason, and the fact that he is president, it made it hard for the competition to stay in business. Jammeh pays zero custom duty and excise, zero sales and value added taxes and thus can and does undercut the competition all the time. The only tax he may be paying is taxes on his annual income, but even this has to be verified.
Gambians are among the most taxed humans on earth and as long as the economy is tax-based there is little chance in the horizon for any relief coming their way. Meanwhile, the single biggest businessman in the country and the most powerful is getting away with murder, both literally and figuratively.