Gambia information ministry ‘regrets’ Daily Observer shutdown

Gambia information ministry ‘regrets’ Daily Observer shutdown

Gambia’s Ministry of Information has expressed regrets at the closing of a pro-opposition newspaper and the country’s oldest daily paper, the Daily Observer.

The closing of the paper, according to authorities has nothing to do with the paper’s editorial policies but its failure to comply with tax obligations.

The Daily Observer owes D17 million dalasis ($425,000 dollars) in taxes and continues to evade taxes despite a payment arrangement with the Gambia Revenue Authority.

“The Ministry has been reliably informed that in the past, the GRA had reached an agreement for a payment plan but the Observer Company had failed to honor its own part of the agreement,” said Aisha Davies Ann, Director of Information Services.

“Therefore, the GRA was relying on the powers conferred on it by Section 215 of the Income and Value-Added Tax Act 2012 which gives it the authority to temporarily close down any persist defaulter.”

Gambia’s Information Ministry is urging the revenue authority and the Daily Observer to hold talks and end bring the crisis to an end.

At least 105 people have lost their jobs as a result of the closure and the Gambia Press Union says the closure is an impairment to freedom of expression.

The paper carried propaganda for Jammeh during his 22-year rule of the West African state and continued to support his APRC after he fled to Equatorial Guinea.

The founder of the paper, Liberian-born Kenneth Best was expelled from the country by Jammeh’s military regime.

Businessman Amadou Samba reportedly bought the company from Mr. Best in 1999.

Gambian authorities have seized Jammeh’s domestic assets. The seizure affected companies associated to Jammeh but the Daily Observer was spared.

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