By Kebba Secka

Both the Commissioner General of GRA Yankuba Darboe and the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Finance Mod Secka, confirmed that a cabinet decision was reached on the increment of excise duty on cement, imported from neighboring Senegal. This initiative according to PS Secka, is to boost the local cement industry. The PS further explained that on 14th November 2018, his Ministry issued directives to the GRA to effect the enforcement on January 1st 2019; that GRA on 16th November, notified its branches nationwide to be aware of the directive. Asked what percentage is attached to the new excise tax regulation, Secka said 5% was what is charged on the CIF import value.

On his part Commissioner General of Custom Yankuba Darboe, confirmed that there are trucks loaded with cement at the border post; that this is because they are enforcing directives from the Ministry of Finance after a decision was reached in cabinet. Asked whether the cement dealers were charged D80 per bag before their trucks can enter the country, Darboe responded: “We are directed to charge one dalasi (D1) per bag of cement. Local cement dealers who import from Senegal were aware of the new tax regulation before it was effected against them.’’

Muntaha Kah of Old Yundum and Muhammed Kah of Paradise Estate who are both cement dealers, on Wednesday January 16th walked into Foroyaa offices to explain how their businesses have been affected by the new tax regulation, which prevents their trucks from entering. “Over twenty-one trucks are at the border currently waiting to enter. Government is stopping our cement from entering because they want to boost local industry. The local industries cannot provide the country with the needed cement for construction,” Muhammed said. According to the two cement dealers, the current increment in the price of cement from the previous price of D215 to D265, shows that local industries cannot supply enough cement for the country. He appealed to Government to reconsider their decision to enable their trucks enter the country. “Customs officials at the border charge us D80 per bag. If this amount is multiplied by 40 tons, the excise tax would cost us sixty-four (D64, 000),” explained Muntaqa.

Hamidou Jah, a manager at the Jah Cement Factory said they are selling wholesale for two hundred and forty-five dalasi (D245) and two hundred and fifty five dalasi (D255) for retailers. Meanwhile information from Salam Cement factory indicated that they sell for two hundred and sixty dalasi (D260) as wholesale price.

Modou Ceesay, a mason by profession, said the high cost of cement is denying them contracts to build houses and appeals to the authorities to resolve the high cost. Abdoulie Faal another mason, said they are just constructors; but that the way cement price is increasing, needs to be considerably looked at by Government. The Ministry of Trade was approached on two occasions to no avail, to find out whether the trucks stuck at the boarder can enter without effecting the current tax on them.

However the Ministry promised this reporter to get back to them on Monday for comments.

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