Hon. Halifa Sallah

Halifa Sallah, the National Assembly Member for Serrekunda Constituency asked the Minister of Trade, Regional Integration, Industry and Employment, to indicate when his Ministry will implement Section 44 of the Labour Act.

Sallah said this Section of the Constitution provides for the registration of employment seekers and employers, in order to address the problems of unemployment on the one hand, and the inadequacy of employment statistics on the other.

The said Section reads: “The Commissioner shall establish and maintain an employment service designed to bring together persons offering and seeking employment, including at minimum, maintaining a register in Banjul for persons seeking employment.”

In his response, the Minister of Trade Bai Lamin Jobe, said his Ministry together with its satellite institution which is Department of Labour, has considerable ground to ensure that Section 44 of the Labour Act 2007 is implemented.

In their efforts to have a functional employment service, Jobe said his Ministry has received support from the International Trade Center (ITC) through the Youth Empowerment Project (YEP), to engage a National Consultant for the development of job referral systems to be anchored at selected youth centres across the country; that the hiring of the Consultant is in progress.

“The objective is to profile market demand for and supply for skills in the Gambia, and establish the demand and supply gap,” the Minister adduced.

The Member for Janjanbureh Constituency Momodou S. Ceesay, asked the Minister to explain the daily demand of cement in the country. In his reply, the Minister said the demand of cement is seasonal in nature; that during the raining season, the country experiences a decline in construction and therefore demand for cement is lean during this period; that construction works picked up immediately after the rainy season increasing the demand in cement up to the month of December until May. “The importation of cement therefore, responds to these patterns. The average monthly import of cement during peak periods vary between 30,000 metric tons, to 40,000 metric tons, whilst during the lean period, total average monthly imports vary between 17,000 metric tons and 22,000 metric tons that is from July to October,” Jobe told Lawmakers.

He said his Ministry observed that the total annual imports of cement increased from 315,000 metric tons in 2016 to 391,000 metric tons in 2018.

On whether Gambian suppliers of manufactured cement are capable of meeting the country’s demand, the Minister responded in the positive. “The main suppliers of cement are more than capable of supplying the whole country,” the Minister said; that their combined installed capacity is 1,900,000 tons per annum; that this is far above the annual national demand for cement which on average, stands around 400,000 tons. Minister Jobe said the current combined utilized capacity of suppliers is around 23% of their installed capacity. In addition, Minister Jobe said that Jah Multi Industries is investing in the construction of silos to improve and expand their storage capacity.

“Both Salam and Jah Cement Companies are expanding their operations to transform from a cement re-bagging facility, to a Grinding Cement Plant. This expansion work started in 2018 and is expected to be complete by end 2019,” the Minister said.

He said the planned expansion will not only meet national demand but also cater for regional markets such as Guinea Bissau, Guinea Conakry and Mali.

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