THE GAMBIA- The Observer Company, publisher of the Daily Observer Newspaper in The Gambia, was yesterday closed by officials of the Gambia Revenue Authority (GRA). The reason of the closure, according to officials is due to an amount of D17 Million (Seventeen million dalasis) unpaid tax by the company, from 1995 to 2013.
The Observer newspaper was a mouth piece of the former government of Yahya Jammeh and his APRC party. Former President Jammeh claimed ownership of the company and has been hiring and firing Managing Directors, Board Members and even Editors-in-chief in some cases all by himself. Since he came to power, the company never paid tax.
However, this unfortunate development has rendered more than 100 staff of the company jobless. The company had over the years not being paying tax and the country’s revenue authority had on several occasions reminded the company through its past and present managing directors, of its tax obligations but these efforts proved futile as the arrears kept increasing annually.
Mamos Tv also obtained official information that the GRA has offered to re-open the company if the proprietor pays 30% of the D17 Million tax arrears in two weeks.
Despite, the Revenue collection Bureau’s obligation to perform its duties in ensuring that taxes are paid accordingly, the government’s latest decision to close down the newspaper is seen as an attack on press freedom.
It would be recalled that the Daily Observer was founded in 1992 by Kenneth Y. Best, a Liberian journalist who was living in The Gambia.
When the former President Yahya Jammeh took over power in 1994, Mr Best was forced into exile and he returned back to his native country.