Saturday, April 23, 2016

Trade Minister Abdou Jobe responsible for the 10,000% tariff increase that led to the border closure

Gambia's Trade Minister, Abdou Jobe
Gambia's Trade Minister, Abdou "Ndobin" Jobe, was in the Senegalese capital recently at the invitation of his counterpart to attend a forum.

At the close of the Forum, the Gambian Minister met with the press to discuss primarily the 10-week old border closure that has severely impacted Gambia into an economic crisis, the worst experienced in 30 years.

He assured Senegalese that both countries are "working tirelessly to find a lasting solution" to the problem.

If the Trade Minister had stopped at assuring Senegal that he is committed to finding a lasting solution, we probably wouldn't have had the cause to respond to him.  But the Minister's additional utterances bordered on hypocrisy because he failed to take, at the minimum, partial responsibility, for the preceding actions that led to the tariff being raised by 10,000% i.e. from CFA 4,000 to CFA 400,000.

Gambia's Trade Minster made the recommendation to Yaya Jammeh who in turn and without consulting with his Finance Minister or his economic management team instructed his Gambia Revenue Authority (GRA) to implement a recommendation based on dubious assumptions.  The report prepared by the Trade Minister appeared to have had no input from his technical staff nor from his colleagues at Finance, the Central Bank or the GRA,

When the GRA Director General expressed concern to Yaya Jammeh about the negative impact such a huge tariff increase will have on revenue, the head of the GRA was given the option of either implementing the new tariff structure immediately or resign.   In stead of resigning, he implimented the new tariffs which led to the Senegalese Transport Union deciding to opt for using the longer route to Ziguinchor via Tambacounda.

The Trade Minister must admit his role and take responsibility as the initiator of this incredibly stupid policy recommendation that resulted in the border between the two countries being closed.