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Dont panic,dont stock pile- Minister Serame

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Ministry of Investment Trade and Industry Permanent Secretary Keganele Malikongwa has warned Batswana against hording of food stuffs and pharmaceutical products, in the advent of the corona virus outbreak.

Malikongwa expressed worry tha panic was beginning to set in as the public has begun bulk buying. She said this has a potential of creating shortages and artificial demand, which would in turn lead to a rise in prices.

The PS has urged the public to exercise calm and restraint and avoid panicking as trade channels remain open for the supply of essential commodities.

“Ideally there should be no disruption of everyday trade as any restrictions will not extend to commodities. We have had contact with our trading partners specially the Republic of South Africa who are our biggest trading partner and main trade route for the conveyance of commodities through sea, road and rail. Our minister, Peggy Serame has been in contact with her counterpat, the South African Minister Ebrahim Patel. To this end the ministers agreed that all commercial boarder posts remain open. This will help prevent any disruption of the flow of trade between the two countries,” said Malikongwa

The PS further stated that should there be any changes, South Africa will notify them on time so that business people can be afforded sufficient time to ready themselves for compliance. She said there shall be daily contact between the two ministers so as to ensure constant evaluation and monitoring of the situation.

Malikongwa also said they will initiate contact with their partners Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

When asked how the outbreak of Corona virus has affected trade bill, Malikongwa said they haven’t received any specific reports from Botswana based exporters but they were actively studying patterns of imports.

She said they have been proactive in engaging with Business Botswana in anticipating possible developments and trying to mitigate against the risks posed

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SADC Executive Secretary disturbed by obstacles in movement of goods

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The Executive Secretary of SADC, Dr Stegomena Lawrence Tax, has cautioned member states that any lack of cooperation among then during the COVID19 era has potential to reverse the gains made in the last decades.

Addressing a virtual SADC Council of Ministers meeting this week, Lawrence Tax said that the regional ministers approved Guidelines on Harmonization and Facilitation of Movement of Essential Goods and Services across borders early April. 

She said that whilst the guidelines have played a critical role in facilitation of movement of essential goods, there are notable obstacles that have been noted by the Secretariat.

The obstacles include non-compliance/non recognition of regional legal frameworks; uncoordinated operations at the port of entry among border agencies; lack of harmonization and synchronization of policies and procedures among, and between member states; unilateral decisions outside agreed framework; as well as different approaches to deal with epidemiological challenges,” she said. 

She added that; “all these are resulting in increased cost of doing business, and negatively affecting the implementation of national and regional programmes”.

She advised that there is need to have measures, and coordinated approach in place since the region is in a post lockdown period since the transportation of non-essential goods and services will be resuming.

Lawrence Tax added that COVID19 is a global pandemic and that the SADC regional approach should expand to COMESA-EAC-SADC tripartite and eventually to other continental blocs.

“The Secretariat is already working with COMESA and EAC, specifically, in terms of harmonizing and synchronizing regulations and procedures for movement of goods and services under the Tripartite arrangement. We need to move in unison and avoid unilateral decisions, specifically with regards to cross border movement of goods and services,” she said.

According to the Executive Secretary, the regional office has already conducted a socio-economic impact analysis of COVID19 on the region and the results have shown that the pandemic will impact negatively across many socio and economic sectors.

“The decline in the global economy is projected to lead to a decline in commodity prices, increase in debt and significant contraction of the SADC economies in 2020. This will reverse the gains on industrial development and trade that the region has made in the last couple of years,” Lawrence Tax said.

On the flip side,  the region’s International Cooperating Partners have made pledges to mitigate the impact of COVID19 pandemic on its economy. 

“To date, the Secretariat has secured Euro 7.3 million from the German Government; Euro3.6million from European Union, Euro 190,000.00 under the GIZ/Africa Union Commission, whereas the African Development Bank (AfDB)  has considered a support UA 7 million. Engagements with the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) are also at an advanced stage,” the Executive Secretary said.

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Guma Moyo returns

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*Controversial politician headed for BPF *BURS owes me P6 million and I am waiting for reimbursement- Moyo

Self-exiled former legislator, Guma Moyo, is reportedly headed back home from South Africa to rejoin local politics after applying for Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) membership.

The flamboyant businessman and former Member of Parliament for Tati-East has been missing in action after he left the country under a dark cloud of controversy claiming that he was fearing for his life.

It also turned out during his sojourn in South Africa that Moyo had also been under the taxman’s radar, with allegations of tax evasion further fueling the confusion over his decision to flee.

The outspoken politician fell off with his party, Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) in a factional war that saw him lead a campaign that endorsed Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi against President Mokgweetsi Masisi for the party presidency.

Although he was expected to support Venson Moitoi, Moyo did not attend the Kang Congress leading to his dismissal from the party.

In an interview with The Voice this week, Moyo confirmed having applied for the BPF membership.

“I have applied for BPF membership. They are my friends and I think that’s where I am welcome.”

He dismissed allegations that he was joining BPF to challenge Biggie Butale for the party presidency.

“They have a leader and I am not joining to lead but to be part of the collective of the party. I believe in them.”

When asked how he was going to work with the party patron, former President Ian Khama, who he didn’t have a good working relationship during his tenure as President, Moyo said, “My relationship with Khama is unquestionable, politics or no politics we are inseparable…Yes we had differences at some point but he apologised for having been misled by some government officials to take decisions that he took and I accepted the apology. That chapter is closed. ” he added.

In May 2015, Moyo says he had the shock of his life when he learnt from one of the banks that they had been instructed to freeze his accounts on graft allegations.

Investigators in the matter questioned the over P25 million which was paid into Moyo’s business account and they suspected that the invoices that Moyo produced had been fabricated.

Before that, the then President Khama hasd launched a scathing attack on Moyo, saying he did not have the interests of the electorates at heart after he was dropped from cabinet.

He said Moyo was only looking for power and self enrichment.

Moyo mentioned that despite having been fired by the BDP, he was grateful to the party for making him what he is today. “I have accepted the move and will not go back.”

BPF Secretary General, Roseline Panzirah Matshome confirmed having received Moyo’s application.

Meanwhile, Moyo has made shocking remarks that Botswana Unified Revenue Service owes him P6 million after he was initially alleged to be owing the tax collector.

The politician who is on self imposed exile in South Africa, says he is waiting for BURS to reimburse him.

“My accounts were frozen and after an audit was done it transpired that it was actually them that owed me, they must refund me,” he said and added: “Let’s not discuss it further because it is politics and it will catch up with them.”

However the BURS General Manager of Communications, Mable Bolele declined to comment on the allegations.

“We are unable to assist you since we do not discuss individual taxpayer issues with the third party as guided by Income Tax Act, Secrecy- under Section 5 Sub-section 1.”

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