Gambia threatens prosecution for dalasi refusal

By Augustine Jatta
The Gambia government has stepped up its campaign against the persistent and illegal practice

of refusal of Gambian currencies by some errant business people within the country, a practice that goes back to the mid 90s. In a statement issued last Saturday, the office of the Gambian president ordered the country’s National Intelligence Agency (NIA) and the Gambia Police Force (GPF) to ‘‘arrest and prosecute anyone who refuses to transact business in the Gambian currency, the dalasi.’’ The statement referred specifically to landlords and businessmen as responsible for the acts, advising that anyone who does not want to do business in the local currency might as well leave the country. The cooperation of the general public, according to the statement, is being solicited, urging them to report anyone who refuses to transact business in the local currency. ‘‘The NIA and police have also been ordered to conduct a nationwide search and arrest of anyone involved in illegal currency trade,’’ the release went on. Refusal of the Gambian dalasi has been a practice widely blamed on foreign traders, but many people here believe it was stirred up by greedy Gambian landlords, including government officials, who take advantage of foreigners who would pay for rent in US dollars. It changed entirely the way tenancy operates in the country, largely at the disadvantage of thGambian_Coinse majority poor Gambians who have resigned to putting up with low standard housing.  As it appears now, the trend has trickled down to the other sectors of the business communities, like corner side shops manned by mainly immigrants who would decide by themselves what denomination to accept. The result is that the 50b, for instance, has virtually become extinct. It could be recalled that just a week or so ago, the head of the country’s police warned against this practice of traders turning down certain denominations of the currency. It is now left to be seen whether the big men involved in the housing business will abide by the rules.

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