- Businesses to get much-needed breather as restrictions are lifted
- Revellers to carouse and boogie at nightclubs
Most businesses will get their much-needed breather when most restrictions are lifted at the end of the current State of Public Emergency (SOE) on 30 September 2021.
Presenting his ministry’s SOE exit plan recently, the Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry, Mmusi Kgafela, announced that businesses will return to their normal trading hours. Regulation 19 of the Emergency Powers Act, which governed the SOE that first began on 2nd April 2020, restrictions on business trading hours will be lifted.
The liquor industry, which has been one of the hardest hit by restrictions and bans on the sale of alcohol, is expected to bounce back to life as many of the regulations that were put in place for containment of the coronavirus come to an end with SOE.
The industry was governed by Regulation 21 which forced closure of liquor shops and suspension of liquor licences. Minister Kgafela said nightclubs will also resume their operations “Throughout the SoE, nightclubs/discotheques were not allowed to operate during SoE,” he said.
“As part of its efforts to support these establishments, government took a decision to exempt nightclub/discotheque licence holders from applying for licence renewal, payment of licence fees and penalties for a period of two years effective 1st April 2020 to 31st March 2022. Therefore, as these establishments open for business, they will not be liable to pay any outstanding fees and penalties.”
Various penalties on licences (trade and manufacturing) and permits (imports) which were suspended for the duration of the SoE will be upon exit be given a leeway with all penalties that were accrued during SoE, from April 2020 to 30th September 2021 not being paid and penalties paid during SOE used to offset applicable annual fees.
All import permits which could not be fully utilised due to the SOE will be validated for a period of six months or until exhaustion of the pula value of the items listed in the permit.
Kgafela also touched on rebates and pricing of essential goods, saying businesses that were facilitated to import essential supplies for the fight against COVID-19 through Rebate Item 412.11 under Schedule No. 4 of the Customs Act that makes provision for importation for relief of distress of persons in cases of famine or natural disaster; under any technical assistance agreement or in terms of an obligation under any multilateral international agreement.
“The Rebate Facility covered, among others, medical and pharmaceutical supplies, veterinary medicines and food items,” he said. “The Rebate Facility will continue beyond SoE and will be reviewed as and when necessary.”
On the pricing of goods, which was controlled by Regulation 25 during the SoE, Kgafela said there is a likelihood that the prices of basic goods will increase after SoE. Minister Kgafela said with Botswana being a free economy with no price control, the ministry will continue to carry out certain measures like business monitoring and compliance to ensure that standards for local and imported products for essential and basic goods and services are adhered to and all anti-competitive behavior is reported and investigated.