Tuesday, November 2, 2010

GAMBIA'S TOTAL DEBT IS D16.84 BILLION


Banjul, The Gambia (TNBES) The total debt of the country as at 31st January 2010 stands at D16.84 billion, the domestic debt component of  the total is D6.13 billion and external debt stands at D10.71 billion, said Minister of  Finance and Economic Affairs Momodou Foon.

The Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs Momodou Foon, was answering a question posed by opposition National Alliance for Democracy and Development (NADD) to Hon. Sidia Jatta House Member for Wuli West who asked the Minister to give the breakdown of the country total debt as of January 2010.

The Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, said this at Parliament building on Thursday 1st April 2010
in the first meeting of National Assembly
in the 2010 legislative session during question and answer time.

He also asked Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, whether mining of minerals is taking place in the country and how much has been accrued by government.

Minster Foon stated that the question was not within the purview of his ministry. He advised the National Assembly Member for
Wuli West to redirect his question to the geology division, office of the
President.

Sidia Jatta further asked the Finance and Economic Affairs Minster, to explain how much groundnut has been purchased and paid for so far since the beginning of
the trade season.

In response, Minister Foon disclosed that the amount of groundnut purchased as
at end-February 2010 stood at
29,592 metric tones, mirroring an
increase of 28.5 percent
compared to the corresponding period during the
previous trading season.

He added that value of total groundnuts purchased thus far stands at D251. 5 million.

Ruling APRC Member for Banjul South Hon. Baboucarr S. Nyang said many Gambians would like to open banks, but the ways and means may be unknown to them. He asked the Finance and Economic Affairs to
explain the avenues to take.

“Any person whishing to apply for banking license
in The Gambia to submit an
application in writing in accordance
with the provisions of Section 4
of the banking Act 2009”, the Finance
and Economic Affairs Momodou Foon said adding
this must be supported by; the
proposed memorandum and articles as of
association, the address of the
proposed head office, with the names and
address of the director, name and address of the first chief executive,
name and address of
the shareholders or the
subscribers who wish
to hold more than ten percent of
the shares.

He added the proposed location of the business and the particulars of
the proposed business, a comprehensive feasibility study report, including the
business plan, proposed
organization chart and financial projections
for at least five years.

Minister Foon further said that the bank review the submission and forward its observations to the promoters for further clarification and when the
banks is satisfied with
the submission after all due clarification, an Approval-In
–Principle (AIP) is issued to
the promoters.

According to him, the AIP sets out conditions for the issuance of a
full licence, including the incorporation of the company as a bank in The Gambia,
payment of a minimum capital of D150 million (currently), and D200 million by 2012.

He also said establishment for a building suitable for
banking business, application
for clearance of
all shareholders who wish
to own more than ten percent of the share adding that subjecting all
major shareholder, directors and senior managers to a “fit and proper
person test” or any other issues which the bank
may consider necessary.


“When all conditions of the AIP are met, the Governor may issue a full banking license to the application. Thereafter, the
applications must commence operations within
six months of the issuance
of a full licence, failure of
which the licence may be revoked.

Additional information on licensing is provided in the guideline for licensing
of banks to be
obtained from the financial supervision department of the
Central Bank of The Gambia (CBG). You may also wish to refer to the Banking Act
2009”, he explains.

Opposition United Democratic Party (UDP) Hon. Babanding K. K. Daffeh, Member for Kaing Central, asked the Finance and Economic Affairs Minister to names the companies or institutions both private and
Parastatals which are owing Social Security Housing and Finance
Corporation in terms of pensions or provident fund contribution,
employers’ ten percent, employees five percent for the year ending
2009, saying that
there are lots of complains
from people that
most employers are not paying
the regular remittances to SSHFC,
which results to a lot of
difficulties for some people in
getting their benefits on time.

In response, Momodou Foon Minister Finance and Economic Affairs stated that there are many companies, private and public, that still have arrears
of pension and provident fund
contributions to SSHFC.

He revealed that the SSHFC has entered into payment plans with most
of these companies, while those
that are proving difficult
have been forwarded
to the corporation’s solicitor for
further action. He added
that the full list of
companies with installment
payment plans and those referred to the solicitor with be submitted
to the clerk of the House in writing.

Ruling APC Hon. Abdoulie Saine Member for Banjul Central, also asked the Finance and Economic Affairs, to explain why civil servants for all categories no longer
have loans and advances from government. This privilege is no longer in existence
also tells us if there is a possibility to revive it, he asked.

Momodou Foon Minister Finance and Economic Affairs, disclosed that government loans and advances to civil
servants are still in existence, mainly
the One-by-six salary advance,
admitting that other facilities could
not be sustained due to
the expansion of t he civil
service that caused the amount of available funds.

“That notwithstanding, the ministry of finance intends to formulate new loan facilities for government employees within the reform programme. To this effect a committee has been established to look into
the modalities of such facilities and to advice my office accordingly”, he
stated.

The Banjul Central Member again asked, why the informal
sector is not being taxed, saying that a good percentage of those
in this sector are non Gambians,
and a lot of revenue
can be generated from this sector.

Minister Foon noted that the revenue potential in the informal sector is being tapped to support the government’s development efforts.

He pointed out that in exercise of the powers conferred on the Minister of Finance under section 237 (1) (b) of the income and sale tax Act, 2004, the Hon. Minister promulgated the “income tax rate for the informal sector regulation of 2007” upon
recommendation by The Gambia Revenue
Authority (GRA).

He further said the rationale for the regulations was to help in the broadening of the
revenue yield of the
country’s tax system.

“ acknowledge the fact that informal sector is dominated
by non-Gambians, but what our tax laws regulations
aims at achieving is to
ensure that residents of this country
irrespective of nationality who fall
within the taxable threshold pay
the fair amount of tax”, he said adding that the other important justification attached to taxing
the informal sector is that it
should contribute toward the
financing of the provision
of public goods and services that
help the sector thrive .

He also said the schedule to the informal sector regulations specifies the rate of income tax payable to a person
employed in the informal sector
section 2 (1) and income tax in respect of a person employed in the informal
sector is payable not later than 31st March of each
tax year section 2 (2).

“Despite the enormous compliance challenges presented by the informal sector it is
being taxed by GRA and GRA will continually evolve strategies for more
effective taxation of the informal sector in a cost-effective manner to tap its
revenue potentials,” he charged. VOL:2
ISSN:154

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