MASISI DEFENDS STATE OF EMERGENCY
• Says P14bn was approved for ERTO because of SoE • SoE has achieved results – says Masisi • Says jobs have been saved, and many created • P13m channeled towards assisting informal sector
President Mokgweetsi Masisi has said as a result of the State of Emergency (SoE), government has approved a total of P14 billion to finance the Economic Recovery and Transformation Plan (ERTP).
President Masisi made a presentation in parliament on Tuesday last week after the extension of the SoE.
Masisi was demonstrating that despite contrary believes, the SoE is indeed benefitting the nation.
In his presentation, Masisi said in addition to other achievements, the Economic Recovery and Transformation Plan (ERTP) of 14 billion Pula was approved to, among others, to support economic recovery post COVID-19.
Through the ERTP, Masisi said an Industry Support Facility (ISF) of P1.3 billion was established to assist SMMEs and medium to large companies with operational costs for business survival and job sustenance.
The Industry Support Facility is administered by the Botswana Development Corporation (BDC), Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA) and Local Enterprise Authority (LEA).
Further to that, Masisi said Government in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), has developed a National Informal Sector Recovery Plan whose aim is to revive the informal sector.
“The Plan has identified two strategic goals, namely; Establishment of Informal Sector Facilitation Structures and Economic Revitalization. Implementation of the Plan has commenced and to date, about P13 million has been disbursed to approximately thirteen thousand (13,000) people in the informal sector,” Masisi said.
In addition, he also noted that water projects across the country were prioritized, and to this extent, the 100 Kilometer Masama - Mmamashia project was launched in 2020 and is about to be completed within budget and on time.
“This was done to ensure provision of reliable portable water in the Southern part of the country, where there is severe shortage of water. Government also provided water to ungazetted areas across the country,” noted the President.
Further to that Masisi said SoE powers gave him the power to lockdown the whole country and to impose curfews to control the spread of the disease by limiting the movement of persons during the lockdown and curfew. He said the SoE powers prohibited retrenchments or dismissal of employees during the SOE, where businesses were unable to pay salaries;
“They provided for COVID-19 measures, such as mandatory testing of all persons at all points of entry. They provided for the introduction of several measures such as requirements to wear face masks, presentation of valid inter-zonal movement permits; and temperature screening when entering public spaces. They provided for the suspension of transport permits, limitation of trading hours, including the sale of alcohol and tobacco. The powers also restricted the number of people at social gatherings such as weddings, churches and funerals or banned some gatherings completely such as workshops, among others,” he stated.
Further, Masisi said in the process of implementing the State of Emergency, there was a noticeable increase in the uptake of Information and Communication Technology in both the public and private sectors.
“In addition, we managed to fast-track, in the shortest time possible, the construction of ablutions in all public schools. We also strengthened and expanded our COVID-19 testing to include high output laboratory based Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) testing at six strategic locations across Botswana. Government has also deployed point of care rapid antigen testing at clinic level, and we are able to conduct our own COVID-19 genomic surveillance to better understand the variants that keep emerging,” he asserted.