Inside the factory floor at Banjul Breweries Ltd

By Adama Makasuba

At least 200 workers of Banjul Breweries Limited are at risk of losing their jobs as the company struggle to operate following the government’s  75% increment on excise tax.

In the wake of the government’s new excise tax last December, 18 workers were made redundant leaving 182 others fighting for their jobs as the company struggle to pay them

Speaking to Gambiana on Tuesday at the Company’s offices, Borri Darboe, commercial director for Banjul Breweries Limited, said: “we don’t know when we can shut down this week; we are just waiting for signal. We are on the verge of shutting down as a result of government policy because they refused to listen to us.”

Mr. Darboe slammed the Finance Ministry for turning down their request for dialogue on the matter, adding “the survival of the company is threatened on a misguided policy that was introduced by the Ministry of Finance and this is really affecting our operation.”

 “We have made effort to engage as a corporate partner with the government of the country through the Finance Ministry but we are not being listened to,” he said.

He said the company has started scaling down the numbers of workers in which 18 staff members have been sent home for lack of resources to pay them.  

According to him, the company contributed 127 million in 2017 and other 132 million dalasi as tax to the coffers of the State, adding “from December to March the government collected 97 million dalasi from us.”

He rejected the reports done by government researchers which he said reported that the company produces 300,000 hector litres a month, adding “what we can do ranges between 6000 to 9000 hector litres.

Samuel Konteh, tour assistant, speaking to our reporter

He said: “we started to scale down the number of staff because the operational cost of the company is very high and that the amount government is taking from us now is huge and we wouldn’t be able to meet our overhead much more to pay staff.”

Kebba Sidy Bojang, senior operator, said: “right now we are facing challenges because we should be four in number working here but the other two have been sent home.”

He appealed to the government to reconsider the tax policy and reduce the high cost of tax of the companies and businesses in the country for development to take its right course.

Rilwan Cham at the production line

Samuel Konteh, tour assistant, said: “we are in a serious dilemma and confusion because right now our work force has reduced due to this new policy of the government. We are family men who only live on this work for survival.”

He said the company does give the personnel of the regional force, ECOMOG; soft drinks free of charges, adding that the staff would be made redundant at any given moment.

Lamin Conteh, father of nine, said: “more than 20 people depend on me so if the company is shutdown it will be a tragedy for me and my family.”

Mr. Conteh, who doubles as the senior supervisor for brewing, urged government to revisit their policy and come to term with them so that the company doesn’t close down.

A survey issued by Gambia Bureau of statistic, GBos, 2019, shows that the unemployment rate in the Gambia is at 41.5% from 38% last year.

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