By Aramata Jatta
National Assembly Members on Monday approved the motion to revised excise tax on alcoholic beverages in accordance with section 149 of the 1997 Constitution of the republic of the Gambia which requires the approval of the National Assembly before any tax could be imposed, altered or varied.
This motion was tabled by the Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs Hon. Mambureh Njie following the increment on excise tax on alcoholic beverages which was part of the policy proposal imbedded in the appropriated Bill 2019 that was approved by the National Assembly in 2018 which came into effect 1st of January 2019.
‘’Unfortunately the increment on the said excise tax, which was proposed by my Ministry in good faith and approved by this august Assembly, came with its own challenges and unrealistic for implementation and therefore created and continues to create challenges in the industry’’ . The honorable minister told deputies.
Hon. Njie alluded that the new excise tax was in no way an intended target of a specific sector but rather propelled by a growing need to initiate social safety net for the youth from negative effects of the alcohol abuse due to lower price. He describe the youth as the cream of our society.
‘’ in addition , road safety over the years have largely been compromised by drunk driving mostly by youth, these and many other reasons were behind the proposal before this august Assembly to increase the excise rates on alcoholic beverages in December 2018’’. The Finance Minister confirmed.
The report of Library and Research Unit of the National Assembly shows that the 75% increment in taxation on alcohol beverages has caused an increment on the price of the products (alcohol). And Banjul Breweries Co.Ltd who is the sole beer producing company in the Gambia has added 59.10% on the price of their product.
The said report also shows that the tax reforms have made alcohol producing factory like Banjul Breweries to consider downsizing and even closing their business if the trend continues. Which closure will have a negative impact on the Gambia’s economy as last year alone Banjul Breweries paid D132 million to the Gambia Revenue Authority which was a plus for the economy .
The report concluded that the increment in excise tax has also contributed to the smuggling of illicit alcohol trade because it cannot monitor the activity to raise revenue.
By Aramata Jatta