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Import ban a hot potato as businesses collapse

Monarch North Councilor, Gopolang Almando, has called on government to suspend the ban on importation of potatoes.

The outspoken Councilor said this when responding to the City of Francistown Mayor, Godisang Radisigo’s Full Council address last Monday.

Almando said while he is in support of government’s efforts to reduce the import bill by promoting the uptake of local products, he also appreciates the impact this decision has had especially on small business owners in and around Monarch.

Botswana’s import bill is reportedly over P85 billion and both Botswana Investment and Trade Centre(BITC), Local Entrepreneurial Authority(LEA) and Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency(CEDA) have since embarked on a nationwide road show of the #PushaBW which aims at building capacity of local producers and service providers.

“The situation on the ground is really bad. People who run small tuck shops that sell fried chips have been so affected by this ban and many have had to close shop,” Almando said.

He said those who used to make a living through the importation of the popular vegetable from South Africa have also been put out of business. “It is so bad that today we find some of them joining Ipelegeng.”

Almando further called on government to listen to the pleas of citizens pertaining to control of goods, prices and restrictions on imports of “butternuts, cocktail tomatoes, tomatoes, onions, green mealies and chilies.
“Government is aware of the potato situation. Shelves have been empty since January, and this has spelt doom for most tuck-shops in our community. “As a result of vegetable shortage in the country, informal traders and restaurants are struggling to keep up. I therefore call on government to open up the borders until that time we’re self sufficient,” Almando told the Council meeting.

The councilor warned that even those who are still operating are barely hanging on, and that should the situation not change soon the informal sector in Monarch will collapse.

OUT OF BUSINESS: Monarch tuck-shops