Challenges still linger in the bottled water industry, despite government seeing positives on the horizon following a statutory instrument introduced last year to restrict bottled water imports.
Bogolo Kenewendo, the Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry told Business Trends that there are a few sticking challenges. Some of the challenges include shortage of spring and sparkling water, as the country has two producers, one for each type respectively.“There is only one producer for spring water being capacitated by some of the retailers and because they have shown commitment to upping the standards of the local producer, we are giving them import permits for spring water, in the meantime,” said Kenewendo.
On sparkling water, Kenewendo conceded that the local producer is overwhelmed by demand.“We have taken that kind of feed back into note, and are reviewing the instrument to say how best we serve the production side and still ensure that the demand side is served as well,” said Kenewendo.
She said government is conscious not to implement a policy at the detriment of the consumer.“We need to find a balance between the producer and the consumer,” said Kenewendo. Meanwhile, the minister said the implementation of the statutory instrument is going well.“There are a lot of new entrants that come with the rise of the instrument and in the beginning, we had a few issues with listing and quality but we are guaranteed that now the retailers have come on board and are buying local,” said Kenewendo, adding that retailers are urged to support local products and manufacturers that meet the standards.
“I do not know any retailer that would put their integrity on line to sell water they cannot vouch for its quality,” emphasized the minister. Last year, when the bottled water statutory instrument was implemented, over 20 companies were registered in the sector. Import figures from Statistics Botswana indicate that in 2016 a total of 2,291, 439 litres were imported into the country at the value of P23, 406,475.
6 Best Forex Trading Platforms for Botswana Traders
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Gov’t swiftly acts on BMC
Government has moved swiftly to place Botswana Meat Commission under the care of a management firm; the move is meant to put the Commission into shape both operationally and financially.
This was disclosed by Finance and Economic Development Minister, Dr Thapelo Matsheka, further stating the BMC is technically insolvent despite having received nearly P1billion as a bailout in recent times. The new management company will run BMC, which is based in Lobatse starting on the 2020/2021 financial year.
The finance minister made it crystal clear that, the move to appoint a caretaker firm for BMC was made to protect the interests of all stakeholders, including farmers. According to Matsheka, the Minister of Agriculture Development and Food Security, Dr Edwin Dikoloti will provide more details on the BMC changes in due course during his committee of supply speech. Government is also proceeding with the conversion of BMC to a company under the Companies Act following the approval of BMC Transition Bill and subsequent repeal of the old Act.
The repealing of the BMC Act has since eliminated the monopoly of the Commission when it comes to beef and cattle export. The repeal has also enabled government to establish a beef regulator which will be responsible for regulating the beef and the cattle sector. “Another aspect of the transition is the ultimate privatization of BMC.
The objective of the privatization of BMC is, among others, to engage the private sector in the ownership and management of the BMC to achieve operational efficiency and profitability, as well as reduce Government’s future financial commitments in the entity. This would be an important process in the transformation of the beef and cattle sector,” noted Matsheka. BMC which is 100 percent owned by government has been operating with losses for many years due to internal and external challenges such as poor supply and Foot and Mouth Disease(FMD).