Saturday, February 27

Increased Prices On Food Commodities – Gov’t Faults Major Importers, Threatens Action

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While consumers continue to struggle with the increase in retail price of the essential food commodities, the government of The Gambia has come to the conclusion that the fault is on major importers who ration the supply to the retailers. This contributes to the price distortion.

In essence the ministry of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment has informed The Chronicle that the stock level of the essential food commodities has increased for the week of 8th February, compared to the week of 2nd February 2021. The government deems the stock “adequate for the next three months”.

In simple terms, there should have been enough essential food commodities in the country at a normally affordable price for the next three months.

The communications office of the ministry of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment has informed The Chronicle that “the stock levels for most of the essential food commodities have augmented by 123.2% for sugar at 42,482 Metric Tons, 23% for flour at 1,484 Metric Tons and 194.5% for onions at 123,915 Bags”.

The stocks of rice, edible oil and potatoes are as well adequate for the next three months at 28, 618 Metric Tons, 313,291 liters and 41240 bags respectively.

Similarly, the ministry has also observed that wholesale prices of most of the essential commodities are generally stabilizing during the week under review.

The fact remains that the average retail prices of some of these essential food commodities are rising disproportionately as observed in Banjul, Greater Banjul Areas and in the provinces based on our weekly price monitoring.

The communications office of the ministry of Trade has revealed that government authorities convened a consultative meeting with major retailers on Monday 15th February 2021 to understand the causes of the abnormal gaps between the wholesale and retail prices.

As a result of these consultations it was reported that the major importers ration the supply to the retailers and this contributes to the price distortion.

While the ministry says that “such practices are not in line with the spirit of free market and as such should be ceased”, it warns that “Failure to do so will result in the implementation of the needed tools to address the situation”. The tools available for the ministry to act and stop the jump of artificial prices hooking the market are yet to be made public.

Meanwhile, the ministry of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment has assured The Chronicle that monitoring and engagements with relevant stakeholders on the essential food commodities with a view of ensuring availability and affordability continues.

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