Banjul – January 31, 2019: The Gambia Press Union has learnt with delight the move by the Government of The Gambia to lift national education levy on the print media.
On Monday November 26, 2018, the Minister for Finance and Economic Affairs, Mr Mambury Njie, told the National Assembly that all print media houses in the country are now exempt from the payment of the National Education and Technical Levy effective 2019.
The GPU welcomes this announcement as a major boost towards the promotion of an enabling environment for vibrant media industry. The Union applauds the Newspaper Publishers Association for their constructive engagement with the government on the issue.
The media in The Gambia is constrained by undue tax burden. Media houses are required to pay a number of tax levies, including education tax, newspaper sales tax, advertising sales tax and income/value added tax. Heavy import duty is placed on printing materials.
The Union has consistently pointed out that the tax regime on media was imposed out of censorial motive. It has been particularly used by the former government to restrain the growth of the press and suppress dissent.
The GPU President, Mr Sheriff Bojang Jr., said: “By imposing heavy tax and other financial burdens, the government ensured that the newspapers have limited capacity to expand production, hire more competent staff and award improved remuneration.”
He added: “We welcome exemption as an important first steps toward removing the economic stranglehold of the media. Of course, we could do better by doing a more comprehensive review of the tax regime as it applies to media.”
The Gambia Press Union has constantly been advocating for the review of the country’s tax regime as it applies to media. On May 3, 2017 – barely three months after the inauguration of the new government – the Union submitted to the government a Position Paper on Freedom of Expression, which among others calls for review of the tax regime.
Signed by GPU Secretary General, Saikou Jammeh