Stall owners rounded up in Banjul

Tens of stalls closed at Albert market today

By Sanna C amara

Tens of stall owners operating at Banjul’s central market have been rounded up yesterday and taken away to July 22nd Square for defaulting to pay the 2013 income tax.

This follows attempts by the government’s central revenue agency to compel them to pay up income tax for 2013. As a result, scores of stalls at the market have been closed today as owners battle with an ultimatum to pay up by the 25th August or risk closure and prosecution.

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“We had to voluntarily close our stalls to work out monies we hardly make from our businesses,” Yassin, a woman trader told Gambia Beat last evening.

Foreign business operators pay up to D17,000

Senegalese and other non-Gambian business operators are required to pay between D15,000 and D17,000.

We spent hours in the Revenue Authority custody yesterday before they decided our fate, Yassin added. They have been released later that afternoon but not without expressed commitments to pay up the said monies.

“Many of us had to call our family members and friends to come up with monies before we risk any unsolicited trouble with the law that early morning. If it was tax for the year, why are they making a sudden fuss about it now?” a Senegalese trader calling himself Bai, said.

‘I cannot pay this money…’

Today, many Senegalese and other nationals are contemplating to close shop and go home. “I cannot pay this money even if I want to… the monies charged are exorbitant and impossible to come up with,” Bai complained.

One Mr. Gaye, another stall owner said their only option is to give up their stalls to Gambian owners if they cannot pay up the said tax. “We can end up working for the shop owners if we are to stay at all,” he said.

Series of taxes

Wuday, a tailoring shop owner told Gambia Beat that she had paid up municipal tax for each of the tailoring machines in her shop. Simple tailoring machines cost D500, designers cost D1,000 and grooving machines cost D1,500 each year.

Notwithstanding this, operators are expected to pay additional D5,000 to the state for the year as income tax. A trade license is also charged by the municipal council they operate in.

The Gambia has been described as one of the most expensive tax regimes in Africa. Government has this year introduced a Value Added Tax. However, this has not added any real value to businesses in the country; except for complicating lives of an already disturbed consumer population, a development expert said.

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