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Business Botswana cautions retailers against hiking of prices

Local business advocacy body, Business Botswana (BB) has urged retailers not to take advantage of the deadly Coronavirus pandemic by hiking their prices.

The organisation’s President, Gobusamang Keebine made the plea this week when addressing the media on the financial impacts of the highly contagious killer bug.

“One of the things that we are saying to members is to also not to take advantage of the situation, particularly the retailers,” implored Keebine.

According to the BB top dog, the trend has already developed in other African countries, where retailers selling necessities such as hand sanitizer were increasing prices on an increasingly regular basis.

“We will engage with our members as well as the Competition Authority to ensure that this does not happen in Botswana,” promised Keebine.

While COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc across the world, spreading at a supersonic speed, businesses have been affected.

In other countries, governments have announced stimulus packages to cushion businesses from the effects of the virus.

Meanwhile, Keebine revealed BB are also looking at ways to avoid people being laid off after government’s decision to ban large gatherings earlier this week.

“The critical part for us is to ensure that we don’t have people laid off. For example, government has announced that not more than 100 people can gather, but companies in manufacturing probably have more than 400 people in a space,” he said, adding that such companies effectively disobey the law.

To mitigate job losses and at the same time comply with government position, Keebine announced that Business Botswana is engaging with the private sector to come up with innovative measures.

“We are doing everything with our members to ensure there are no retrenchments because, already we are sitting at a youth unemployment figure of over 20 percent. How many people would we want to see roaming the streets unemployed?” asked Keebine.

In addition to the hiking of prices, the business body has cautioned members of the public to abstain from hoarding and panic buying which would impact other members of the society.

While the virus has affected almost all sectors of the economy, tourism and air travel included, national airliner, Air Botswana says it anticipates an adverse impact due to its feeder status and reliance on other airlines.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has forecast the global airline revenue losses to be between US$63 billion and US$113 billion due to COVID-19.

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