Wednesday, October 5

Minister Sillah defends Banjul rehabilitation roads project contractor

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By Binta Jaiteh

Honorable Ebrima Sillah, the Minister of Works and Infrastructure has defended the Banjul Rehabilitation Project saying the contractor; Mr Hadim Gaye has been paying tax for the past three years according to the tax clearance report of the Gambia Revenue Authority (GRA).

He made this statement, during a press conference held with government officials and the media on the Banjul Rehabilitation Project.

A project that caused a lot of noise after the flooding incident in August, the press conference was held at the Sir DawdaKairaba Conference Centre Bijilo.

According to him, he said The taxes are paid and the clearance certificate is issued by GRA which is proof as far as the contract is concern, “we do issue duty waivers to contractors and he is not the only contractor that benefited”

He added that most of the contractors that work for the Gambian Government want to bring specific things to the country that are directly related to the work they are doing and it may impact the cost structure they will negotiate with the Finance Minister.

He explained that it is the Gambian government that awarded the contract to Gaye Construction Company and the project is a multi-stakeholder through the government mechanism. NAWEC has upgraded the electricity transformers at the Bond Road power station from 100 kilowatts to 200 kilowatts for the smooth operation of the new stations in Bond Road.

He said under the project a fund is allocated to buy equipment for garbage collection for purpose of the sanitary issue in Banjul.

“Since I came in, I invited the Mayor to my office and want to believe in buiding a new relationship at the end of the day it will be the interest of the government and the city council to work together and see the magnitude of the investment that has gone into Banjul project matches with sanitary portfolio. The number of construction projects especially those that either government funds or donors, we provide certain tax exemptions for example if we consider bringing in gravel or basalt over from the neighboring countries it is going to cost us more to do the construction work. The Ministry of Finance and Works do engage to provide tax exemption,” he explained.

However, he said they have the management response to the quarries of the audit report regarding the tax issue and the government complied with the advice of GRA that the contract does not exempt taxes, and the only waiver in the contract is duties.

Yankuba Darboe Commissioner General of GRA said their role is to advise the government on tax matters but they are on the side of the operation and any project for that matter that comes to the country and they are contacted to give the right advice. “Be it an individual project that has economic activity in this country at the end of the day you have to pay taxes as far as we are concerned. The contractor in question that is Gaye Construction Company has paid his tax and at the end of the year, he submits an audited report,” CG of GRA confirmed.

Karamo Jaiteh, Studi International Gambia and the Engineer of the Banjul Rehabilitation Project narrated that most of the drainages in Banjul were constructed in the 50s there was flooding in Banjul in 1947 that led to serious flooding in Banjul and the Government at the time decided to have a drainage project.

He went further on this that all the drainages were done during that time and completed in 1952 with the construction of the Bond Road pumping station. When in place, he said they were functioning well with consistent maintenance over the years there was a lack of maintenance and the system went through disrepair. The drainage system was used as refuge collection by the citizenry and because of that water could not flow properly which also led to stagnant water and high cases of malaria.

Ebrima G. Sankareh, Government Spokesperson and Presidential Advisor on Diaspora Affairs and Honorable Lamin Queen Jammeh, Minister of Information to discuss the importance of the press conference as sanctioned to be held by President Barrow in fulfillment of the commitment to democratic governance and given the democratic credentials of the government.