Trade Minister Assures Govt’s Commitment to ensure that essential food commodities are available, accessible

The Minister of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment, Hon. Baboucarr Ousmaila Joof has assured the public of the full and continued commitment of the Government of The Gambia to ensure that essential food commodities are available and accessible to population.

He emphasized that his Ministry will continue to monitor the stocks and prices and adopt appropriate policy measures to achieve that objective especially in this Holy month of Ramadan.

Minister Joof made these remarks on Monday during the Ministry’s 2nd press conference meant to update the public through the media on the current situation of the stocks and price levels of essential food commodities. It is also aimed highlight  some of the factors contributing to the current price hikes and the measures adopted by government through the Ministry to ensure that they dampen the effect of the global price hikes on the prices of the essential food commodities in domestic market to  ensure their availability throughout.

The Trade minister informed the media that his Ministry monitors the stock and price levels of basic commodities on weekly basis. The main  objective of this exercise, he outlined, is to ensure that the Ministry has first-hand information on the stocks and the prices of these commodities at all times for timely and informed policy decision as well as engagements with importers and other relevant stakeholders to avoid shortages while at the time ensure price stability.  

He went on to add that to contain and mitigate the external shocks on the stocks and prices of essential commodities in the domestic market, the Government of the Gambia has adopted a number of measures including: the Government has successfully negotiated with the government of India to secure a waiver for the importation of rice in 2023.  “Accordingly, the Government of the India allocated the first quota of 100,000 MTs to The Gambia. Following this allocation, my Ministry worked with a number of importers to lift these consignments. A total of 63,650MT of rice were imported under the Indian Waiver, he revealed.

He continued that the second quota allocation of 50,000 MT was also approved for the Gambia in 2023 making a total of 150,000 MT for The Gambia. Following the approval of the second quota, he noted, the Ministry is working with some importers to utilize the quota. “These new allocations are currently under price negotiations between the importers and the relevant Indian authorities through the support of my Ministry and the Gambia High Commission in India. The plan is to have the first consignment in Banjul during the first week of Ramadan. Two of the suppliers have successfully negotiated the price at $490 as the lowest price,” he disclosed.

According to him, the Ministry has also requested an additional 150,000 MTs of rice as a new allocation for 2024. He added that they have also requested from Indian Government to include sugar and oil as part of the support package for waiver in 2024. “It is envisaged that these consignments will increase the supply of these commodities and therefore exert a downward pressure on the prices in Domestic market,” he stated.

However, he affirmed that his Ministry also continue to work collaboratively with the Gambia Ports Authority to provide priority berthing of vessels carrying essential commodities to avoid demurrage charges that may add to prices in the markets.

In addition, he added, where critically necessary, MOTIE engaged Central Bank to provide supports to access forex to suppliers of essential commodities. All these measures, he noted, have help to not only ease pressure on prices but also ensure availability of essential commodities.

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