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Last Updated:  Tuesday, 25 February, 2003, 15:44 GMT
Gambia imposes 'foreigner tax'
By Alpha Jallow
BBC, Banjul

The introduction of a new "foreigners tax" in The Gambia has led to many foreigners fleeing the country.

Every foreigner resident in The Gambia now has to pay 1,000 dalasi ($40) every year for an "Alien Certificate".

Banjul street scene
Up to half the population are foreigners
Sources close to the government say the new tax is necessary because out of 1.5 million people living in The Gambia, about 700,000 are foreign nationals and their numbers are increasing.

They also say the new tax will help the authorities improve social services for the entire population.

One senior government official who backed the new tax said it is unfair to tax Gambians alone, while many expatriate workers are accumulating large sums of money at the expense of Gambian tax payers.

The issue is so controversial that the cabinet is reportedly split over the tax.

Education hit

Since the introduction of this new alien tax many foreigners mostly from Guinea, Senegal and Sierra Leone have left the country.

Pape Jobe, a Senegalese who has lived most of his life in The Gambia, told me he cannot afford the money to pay for himself and his four relatives.

He added that the new tax law has only favoured those foreigners who are well established in the country.

The new tax has also caused a stir among parents of children going to school.

Some say that if the large number of foreign teachers leave the country, the education of their children will be greatly affected.

But while some foreigners disagree with the new tax, others welcome it as a move in the right direction.

One high profile Nigerian businessman in Banjul, who wished to remain anonymous, said it would curb the number of illegal immigrants who parade the streets of Banjul and Serekunda.




SEE ALSO:
Gambia woos foreign investors
04 Jul 02 |  Business
Timeline: Gambia
22 Feb 02 |  Africa
Country profile: Gambia
29 Jun 02 |  Country profiles


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