Economic Protectionism: Indigenous vs. Foreign Businesses

“If we are to be a developed country. We must produce Gambian, buy Gambian and most importantly consume Gambian”. Dabakh

Getting the economy back on track, creating employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for the citizenry SHOULD have been the utmost priority for the government within its first year. For any country to developed, its economy to grow, improve on its GDP, the major players in its economic activities MUST be the indigents/citizens of that country.

Sadly the reverse is the situation in the Gambia; most of our youths are mere employees and earns by far the lowest wages/salaries across the continent.

The big players in our economic activities are what I call BRIEFCASE investors who come into the country with an empty BRIEFCASE with nothing but sweet words and few dollars to bribe their ways into winning major government contracts, after few years they are billionaires at the detriment of the average poor Gambians.

For how long would we sit and watch criminal cartels cum BRIEFCASE investors highjack our economy with help of few self-centered individuals whose sole interest us the dollars they can pocket from endorsing such bad deals? It’s time we demand transparency and RESPECT from our elected officials and demand that whatever decision is being taken on our behalf is of our collective interest.

The least we expect from our government is;

To get citizens be amongst the major players in the economy, government must take some measures to fast track such dreams, one of the major failure of the APRC government was instead of supporting local entrepreneurs it was forcing them out of business with higher taxes, defending the business interest of foreign investors at the expense of local ones, slamming economic crime charges against indigenous business owners forcing them into exile and forced closure. And now I have seen the Barrow administration going on that path by sacrificing indigenous businesses for foreign investors whose major interest is the millions they would pocket.

To empower local businesses and encourage young people to venture into entrepreneurship and not job seekers. The truth is government can’t create employment to every citizen, but it can create the enabling environment for every citizen to realize their dreams and be financially independent. Below are few steps they can take to get Gambians be a major players in our economy;

  1. Create an investment bank which can lend starting capital to aspiring entrepreneurs at a low cost, accompany them with coaching/mentoring within the first five years of operations.
  2. Allow a tax break for start-up business in their first five years, and for one to qualify for the TAX breaks they would have to create at least 10 jobs during the period.
  3. Make it a policy for any foreign business to be issued with license to operate in the Gambia; they must have a local partner/s that will be among key decision makers in the company.
  4. Create processing industries which will transform our natural resources like mango, orange, baobab etc. into valued added products for local and sub regional consumption, that would not only create employment but also generate the much needed foreign exchange the country so dearly needs.
  5. Synchronise our tax system but also brings it down to a level that will help spearhead growth for start-ups.
  6. Create an equity market or an Entrepreneurship fund which is accessible and affordable to youths and women who envisaged to becoming job creators (Entrepreneurs) instead seekers.

How CAN we build our economy when we have a government who prioritise foreign businesses over indigenous ones? Even within the senior management ladders of such foreign firms you barely see a Gambian there but even where they do it’s just ceremonial but not major influence they have when it comes to key decision making.

Indigenous businesses aren’t asking a favour from our governments, but the least they deserve is the same RESPECT and opportunities accorded to foreign businesses or investors.

We have a country to BUILD! For The Gambia Our Homeland, Let JUSTICE guide our actions.

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