The private sector voice, Business Botswana does not support the extension of the State of Public Emergency (SoPE) as it believes it will cause further damage to an economy that has been affected by the lockdowns.
The business arm says the harm has been done already urging government to open the economy now and rescue whatever remains than to extend that action by another six months.
On Wednesday, the SoPE was extended by another six months and it will end in April next year. In March 2020 Parliament approved the State of Public Emergency legislation to run from April 2 to October 2, 2020 after the World Health Organisation declared COVID-19 a world pandemic. By then it was though that the action would provide a better option to safeguard the lives of Batswana, while containing and controlling the spreading of the disease.
Public Emergency, under the provisions of Section 17 of the Constitution of the Republic of Botswana, empowers the President to declare a SoPE at any time.
According to Business Botswana, there are other tools that exist which can be used to manage the COVID-19 Pandemic without necessarily resorting to the SoPE.
"The Public Health Emergency Act is such a tool which can achieve the same objective as the SOE but without exposing the economy to very stringent restrictions as it is the case now. Using the Public Health Emergency tool will relieve Government of the need to lay out a lot of money to mitigate loses
arising from businesses having to close temporarily due to lockdowns," reads a statement from Business Botswana.
Business Botswana also says the pandemic has caused a lot of damage to the economy as most businesses are currently operating at bare minimum; while some have folded and others are continuing to run by way of liquidations to avoid the extended
"Most employees though not retrenched as it would be contrary to the SOE are home without pay; any further disturbance to the business environment will kill enterprises and they are certainly going to find it difficult to start all over again. It is best to deal with the results of lifting the SOE than to postpone these where there will be even greater negative consequences. Unemployment is going to reach peak levels, crime is going to dramatically increase, social ills are going to increase when people lose their properties’’.,Business Botswana further says”
However Business Botswana applauds the Government's efforts of mitigating the effects of the pandemic and does recognise that it has done the best it could under the current circumstances. They said the impact of the various relief interventions has not been felt by most enterprises.
Government this week announced that the SoPE allows it to restrict the movement of people and operations of businesses to prevent the exposure of people to the coronavirus, thereby, containing its rapid spread and transmission. The containment of the spread of the virus paved the way for the exit from the lockdown and the easing of some of the restrictions.
It has also allows the government to put in place the communication mechanisms necessary for a pandemic of this magnitude and increase the uptake of the use of technologies by individuals, the private sector and Government. It ignited our creative reserves as a nation and provided opportunities for us to develop innovative solutions to address the effects brought about by COVID-19