The President, His Excellency Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi said that the Government of Botswana is committed to protecting and cushioning Batswana from the effects of heightened cost of living and spiralling inflation rates. The President was speaking to the members of the media at a press conference to appraise the nation on issues of national interest in Gaborone yesterday.
His Excellency highlighted that high inflation rates have been one of the many challenges that his Government has been facing post the Covid-19 pandemic. He stated that the inflation rates have since reached double figures, surpassing the 3-8% range established by the Bank of Botswana. As a result, the levels of unemployment also spiralled as companies faced closures and bankruptcies.
President Masisi noted that notwithstanding, the Government of Botswana has swiftly responded by undertaking several measures to cushion Batswana from these effects though regretting that the response was not enough for the transport component of the inflation. He said that transport contributes the highest in proportion terms to inflation and one of the reasons constraining response to transport-induced inflation was because Botswana’s fuel was imported and not only imported but imported from other countries through the private sector.
The President informed the gathering that a number of raft measures were undertaken to respond to inflation including wage subsidy to small businesses; setting up of a special fund to support SMMEs through the 1000 pula grants; and reduction of the burden of VAT on some goods; various subsidies provided to the power corporation; various subsidies provided on the pricing of the consumption of potable water; and average subsidies provided to the petroleum or fuel and lubricants industry among others. President Masisi said that the Economic Recovery and Transformation Plan was also put in place, as direct budgetary targeting of sectors to help boost the economy.
President Masisi briefing the media in the company of some Cabinet Ministers and Senior Government Officers expressed pleasure at the opportunity to find time to engage members of the media regretting that it has been a while since the last engagement. He noted that it was necessary for any democratic dispensation to engage with the press and to keep the press informed, directly because it was a measure of accounting.
“In our system and the party that I lead we believe and want to practice what we believe in, we believe in accounting. I take this as one such step to account through distinguished members of the press to the public and also members of the public through yourselves have an opportunity to engage and hold me, ministers and my government accountable”, the President said.