The price of a petrol litre at pump stations has increased in The Gambia from D47.03 to D52.03 while diesel outstretched from D46.64 to D50. 64. The fuel increment adds to the recent price hikes of food and basic commodities that are irking consumers, especially those with meagre revenues.
The reasons behind the increases range from poor economic and trade policies to the countless excuses generally placed on the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic. Meanwhile,
Ramadan is fast approaching while the prices of basic commodities remain unaffordable to many households.
In a poorly regulated environment, retailers continue to dictate the pace of prices and not the traditional market and tandem with the demand and the offer. The most vivid example is that of the cement. While the factory price ranges from D265 to D285, the retail price has ranged from D340 to D400 in two weeks.
It took a general public outcry before the Ministry of Trade finally acts to put a threshold at D285 for factory price and D305 for retail price. The effects of the ministry’s decision to classify cement as an essential commodity, and warnings against hoarding, are yet to be seen.
While Gambians believe that the government seems powerless, officials at the Ministry of Trade have told the Chronicle that instruments exist to lessen the skyrocketing prices. One of such instruments, The Chronicle has been told, is the 2015 Essential Commodities Act to ensure that, in the interest of the General Public, the importation, distribution and retailing of essential commodities in The Gambia is regulated to ensure its availability at fair and reasonable prices.
The fact remains that the importers and the retailers have outpaced the government in dictating prices and shortcutting the weak market regulations. Meanwhile, commodities continue increasing almost every day.