|PRIVATE SECTOR´S DEVELOPMENT POWERED BY SYNERGT|
The Gambia's investment policy comes under a broad band of liberal macroeconomic policy framework that sets out government's economic and financial priorities. It amply shows the consistence of the government's commitment to investment, private sector development and the encouragement of incremental capital, both foreign and domestic as the engine of economic growth. This is perfectly encapsulated in the Vision 2020 document, which expressly states that economic and industrial development "must necessarily be private-sector led". By launching the Vision 2020 initiative and adopting the National Industrial Policy (NIP), the government has unfolded an integrated strategy for the expansion of private sector activities in the country within a broad-based framework, through policy coordination of investment incentives, trade policy and the restructuring of institutional structures. All these efforts are being executed in an environment of perfect partnership between the public and private sectors.
Noting underscores this partnership like the recently concluded two-day First Gambian Economic Summit, which attracted the government at its highest level to a meeting with the private sector. At the end the event, private sector participants took up a newer challenge to adopt increasingly innovative approaches to wealth creation while their public counterparts added commitment to the enhancement of an enabling environment for the desired private sector leadership in industrial growth.
The incentives keep increasing as the institutional arrangements gets better. The Trade Gateway project is a key element in this new drive. Aimed at establishing free zones for processing, packaging, transhipment, and distribution of goods within a tax and duty free, incentives-laden environment. The trade gateway project will serve as a major infrastructure, an attraction and opportunity for investors to exploit the 270-million strong market of West Africa with an annual trading volume of 200 billion US dollars.
In line with the on-going policy to stimulate and attract significant private sector confidence and investment in key sectors of the Gambian economy, the recently produced industrial policy defines the special investment incentives and the guarantees that accompany them. Eligible investments would enjoy a series of tax holidays and exemptions from customs duties, sales tax and turnover tax. They will also benefit from a special scheme of accelerated tax depreciation and preferential privileges in the allocation of the land for proposed investments.
|The establishment of a one-stop, single-counter investment and export promotion agency will function as the needed link between the government and the investor while allowing for the optimisation and efficient coordination of necessary approval procedures. The 'get it all' agency, The Gambia Investment Promotion and Free Zones Agency, when functional, shall provide services such as; obtaining visas and extension of stay; business registration; land for industrial and agricultural development and expatriate quota applications. The institution shall also have the mandate to grant duty waivers and concessions, provide financing to medium and large enterprises and invest in enterprises through joint and sole ventures. |
Existing investments are not neglected, the proactive efforts of the Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry is yielding fruits with a collaborative public sector. Company taxes have been reduced to 35% from 50%. Sales tax is the sub-regional lowest and a flexible tax regime often times allows duties after sales.
But there are problems; energy shortage is a serious indictment on the Gambia's seriousness to industrialise. And while incentives keep increasing, the investors are not yet responding. Efforts at infrastructure development are commendable, but it must be expedited.
However, the picture is far from gloomy. Robert Collins, General Manager of Banjul Breweries, believes there are great potential, especially when the Gambia designs a "manufacturing policy" that could encourage the establishment of mass industries.
Sayed Moukhtara, Managing Director of Moukhtara Holding Co. Ltd, a conglomerate, thinks the government is working hard to overcome the constraints posed by a paucity of natural and human resources.