The cost of using Selebi Phikwe Town Council (SPTC) services will go up by November this year as the Town Council last week adopted the proposed fee increases for various services that the Local Authority provides to the public.
Presented by the Chairperson of Finance and General Purposes Committee, Councillor Moses Serite, the Cost Reduction Strategy Review Report which outlined fee hikes for various services and introduced fees for services previously not charged, councillors adopted the report without a single dissenter.
The report records that the SPTC has proposed to review cost reduction strategies in place “due to the fact that it has been offering certain services and it has emerged that most of them were either undercharged for services charged or not charged at all.” It further notes that the review of the strategies is “so as to bridge the imbalance between running expenses and income generated.”
It further states that “some costs have been introduced due to the fact that too much effort and resources are used in order for the council to render services like site visits, inspections before and after developments, and this automatically includes maintenance and operational costs including sitting allowances that committees attract by sitting for decisions to be made.”
The council have adjusted upwards most of its fees and service charges at a times where businesses are struggling to stay afloat in a town still reeling from the economic shock that saw some businesses close shop following the closure of BCL mine in October 2016. The Town Clerk has been given the authority to make a waiver where necessary. All cost changes are effective on November 01, 2018.
Several services have been seen cost increases of over 100%. The stadium which has been charging P3, 500.00 for local festivals have been hiked to P10, 000.00, representing a 186% increase. International pastors and other international festivals who have been paying P7, 000.00 will from November have to fork out P15, 000.00, the reports reveals.
Fees have also been increased for Advertising and Hoarding Signs with perusal fee being increased from P12.00 to P200.00.The Advertisement Levy per year for Super Billboards and Custom Billboards have been increased from P1, 500.00 to P1, 800.00 while for Electronic Billboards, the levy has increased from P2, 000.00 to P2, 500.00. Advertising on Street Light poles, Refuse bins and Bus Shelter moves up from P300.00 to P700.00.
Fees for using Council facilities like Civic Centre, Community Hall, Show Ground and Recreation Centre have also been revised upwards. Several fees have been upped by 25% (P200 to P2500) except for hosting of festivals from P500.00 to P3, 000.00 at the Civic Centre. The highest charge for hosting an event at the Community Hall and Recreation Centre is P1, 000.00 per day for an all-night prayer and church conferences. The charge for hosting Church Conference has moved from P350.00 to P1, 000.00. According to the report, Charitable Organisations which have not been paying for utilising council halls will now have to pay a 50% subsidised fee for all their activities.
The report indicates that the charges “are influenced by the cost of managing the facilities like preparing for leases, legal costs for non-compliant lessees, security of facilities, insurance incurred by the Council among other reasons especially for activities of high income returns, high risk activities and fees required for maintenance, cleaning, power and water consumption.”
According to the report, recreation spaces like children play area moves up from P1, 500.00 per day to P2, 000.00 to cater for damages that might occur. It indicates that some of the damages has been exceeding the money generated. Grave excavation costs have also gone up. The reports records that grave excavation costs are “too high due to high fuel consumption during excavation.” Graves for children will now cost P75.00 from P30 for citizens while it will cost foreigners P100 from the previous charge of P30. The grave for an adult will cost P150.00 from P95.00 for citizens while for foreigners, the cost moves up from P95.00 to P200.00.
For the Show Ground, one will need to pay up to P5,000.00 per day to host a music festival which feature international artistes while other uses will be charged P250.00 hourly. Again, Charitable Organisations and Government Schools will be subsidised by 50% for all their activities. Under Environmental Health, charges have also been hiked. Abattoir charges have moved up from P50.00 to P100.00 plus P30.00 slaughter levy per head of cattle, making the total charge for slaughtering a cow P130.00 per beast.
For goats and sheep, it has moved up from P12.00 to P30.00 per goat or sheep while slaughtering a pig will attract a charge of P50.00 from the previous charge of P20.00. Cold Storage costs moves from P25.00 to P50.00 per animal day. The Report explains the charges are meant “to bridge the imbalance between abattoir running expenses and the income generated from providing the service.”
Hiring of classroom has seen a 100% increase from P300.00 per night to P600.00.Booking a classroom for a meeting will cost P100.00 per an hour. It was previously charged P25.00 hourly. Hiring of a pot also moves from P25.00 to P100.00. According to the report, the justification for an increment on these items is because “a lot of expenses are incurred in paying for utilities and maintenance of schools.” The report also says that Selebi Phikwe is a town with accommodation facilities in place for use.
Under Civil and Mechanical, reinstatement of roads moves form P775.00 per an hour to P900.00. The report says this is due to an increase in maintenance costs and payment of employees. Equipment hire has also increased by 22% for both Front End Loader and small TLB (Backhoe Loader). The bigger TLB, Grader and Roller has seen an increase of 20%, 15% and 33% respectively. The hikes according to the report are meant to “augment for the repair costs and payment of officers which increase overtime.”
New fees Introduced
Tables, chairs, plants and florist services which were previously not charged for will now carry a charge. Table and chair hire will cost P10.00 and P2.00 respectively while hire for plants and florist services will cost P20.00 and P800.00 respectively. Other new fees include among others charging P1, 000.00 per day for use of open space by industrial or commercial entities while Non-Governmental Organisations will pay P370.00 for the same. Driving Schools will have to pay P250.00 monthly while celebrations and churches will pay P300.00.
The Council will now sell some documents which it has been previously issuing out for free. A 1.5, 2.5 and three roomed house plan will cost P100.00, P150.00, and P200.00 respectively. Maps in various sizes will also be on sale at P20.00 (A4), P30.00 (A3), P40.00 (A2), and P50.00 (A1).
Under Physical Planning, Housing and Estate Management, perusal fees for planning permission and application fees have been introduced. Low Income Residential (SHAA) will cost P500.00 while other non SHAA residential will be charged P750.00. A P1, 000.00 will be charged for non-residential plans like commercial industrial, civic and others. However, there has been no increase for domestic waste collection for both industrial and residential, Skip Hire, incineration and clinical waste collection and disposal.
Here is how one Permanent Secretary encapsulates the clear tension between democracy and bureaucracy in Botswana: “President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s Government is behaving like a state surrounded with armed forces in order to capture it or force its surrender. The situation has turned so volatile, for tomorrow is not guaranteed for us top civil servants.
These are the painful results of a personalized civil service in our view as permanent secretaries”. Although his deduction of the situation may be summed as sour grapes because he is one of the ‘victims’ of the reshuffle, he is convinced this is a perfect description of the rationale behind frequent changes and transfers characterising the current civil service.
The result of it all, he said, is that “there is too much instability at managerial and strategic levels of the civil service leading to a noticeable directionless civil service.” He continued: “Changes and transfers are inevitable in the civil service, but to a permissible scale and frequency. Think of soccer team coach who changes and transfers his entire squad every month; you know the consequences?”
The Tsunami has hit hard at critical departments and Ministries leaving a strong wave of uncertainty, many demoralised and some jobless. In traditional approaches to public administration, democracy gives the goals; and bureaucracy delivers the technical efficiency required for implementation. But the recent moves in the civil service are indicative of conflicting imperatives – the notion of separation between politicians and administrators is becoming blurred by the day.
“Look at what happened to Prisons and BDF where second in command were overlooked for outsiders, and these are the people who had sacrificially served for donkey’s years hoping for a seat at the ladder’s end. The frequency of the changes, at times affecting the same Ministry or individual also demonstrates some level of ineptitude, clumsiness and lack of foresight from those in charge,” remarked the PS who added that their view is that the transfers are not related to anything but “settling scores, creating corruption opportunities and pushing out perceived dissident and former president, Ian Khama’s alleged loyalists and most of these transfers are said to be products of intelligence detection.”
Partly blaming Khama for the mess and his unwillingness to let go, the PS dismissed Masisi for falling to the trap and failing to outgrow the destructive tiff. “Khama is here to stay and the sooner Masisi comes to terms with the fact that he (Masisi) is the state President, the better. For a President to still be making these changes and transfers signals signs of a confused man who has not yet started rolling his roadmap, if at all it was ever there. I am saying this because any roadmap comes with key players and policies,” he concluded.
The Ministry of Health and Wellness seems to be the most hard-hit by the transfers, having experienced three Permanent Secretaries changes within a year and a half. Insiders say the changes have everything to do with the Ministry being the centre of COVID-19 tenders and economic opportunities. “The buck stops with the PS and no right-thinking PS can just allow glaring corruption under his watch as an accounting officer. Technocrats are generally law abiding, the pressure comes with politically appointed leaders racing against political terms to loot,” revealed a director in the Ministry preferring anonymity.
The latest transfer of Kabelo Ebineng she says was also motivated by his firm attitude against the President’s blue-eyed Task Team boys. “The Task Team wants to own the COVID-19 pandemic and government interventions and always cry foul when the Ministry reasserts itself as mandated by law,” said the director who added that Masisi who was always caught between the crossfire decided on sacrificing Ebineng to the joy of his team as they (Task Team) were in the habit of threatening to resign citing Ebineng as the problem.
Ebineng joins the Office of the President as a deputy Coordinator (government implementation and coordination office).The incoming PS is the soft-spoken Grace Muzila, known and described by her close associates as a conformist albeit knowledgeable.
One of the losers in the grand scheme is Thato Raphaka who many had seen as the next PSP because of his experience and calm demeanour following a declaration of interest in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Secretary post by the current PSP, Elias Magosi.
But hardly ten months into his post, Raphaka has been transferred out to the National Strategy Office in what many see as a demotion of some sort. Other notable changes coming into OP are Pearl Ramokoka formerly with the Employment, Labour and Productivity Ministry coming in as a Permanent Secretary and Kgomotso Abi as director of Public Service Reforms.
One of the ousted senior officers in the Office of the President warned that there are no signs that the changes and transfers will stop anytime soon: “If you are observant you would have long noticed that the changes don’t only affect senior officers but government decisions as well. A decision is made today and the government backtracks on it within a week. Not only that, the President says this today, and his deputy denies it the following day in Parliament,” he warned.
Some observers have blamed the turmoil in the civil service partly to lack of accountable presidential advisers or kitchen cabinet properly schooled on matters of statecraft. They point out that politicians or those peripheral to them should refrain from hampering the technical and organizational activities of public managers – or else the party (reshuffling) won’t stop.
In the view expressed by some Permanent Secretaries, Elias Magosi, has not really been himself since joining the civil service; and has cut a picture of indifference in most critical engagements; the most notable been a permanent secretaries platform which he chairs. As things stand there is need to reconcile the imperatives of democracy and democracy in Botswana. Peace will rein only when public value should stand astride the fault that runs between politicians and public managers.
Former Permanent Secretary to the President, Carter Morupisi, is fighting for survival in a matter in which the State has charged him and his wife, Pinnie Morupisi, with corruption and money laundering.
Morupisi has joined a list of prominent figures that served in the previous administration and who have been accused of corruption during their tenure in office. While others have been emerging victorious, Morupisi is yet to find that luck. The High Court recently dismissed his no case to answer application.
United States President, Joe Biden, is faced with a decision to make relating to the Covid-19 vaccine intellectual property after 175 former world leaders and Nobel laurates joined the campaign urging the US to take “urgent action” to suspend intellectual property rights for Covid-19 vaccines to help boost global inoculation rates.
According to the world leaders, doing so would allow developing countries to make their own copies of the vaccines that have been developed by pharmaceutical companies without fear of being sued for intellectual property infringements.
“A WTO waiver is a vital and necessary step to bringing an end to this pandemic. It must be combined with ensuring vaccine know-how and technology is shared openly,” the signatories, comprising more than 100 Nobel prize-winners and over 70 former world leaders, wrote in a letter to US President Joe Biden, according to Financial Times.
A measure to allow countries to temporarily override patent rights for Covid related medical products was proposed at the World Trade Organization by India and South Africa in October, and has since been backed by nearly 60 countries.
Former leaders who signed the letter included Gordon Brown, former UK Prime Minister; François Hollande, former French President; Mikhail Gorbachev, former President of the USSR; and Yves Leterme, former Belgian Prime Minister.
In their official communication, South Africa and India said: “As new diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines for Covid-19 are developed, there are significant concerns [about] how these will be made available promptly, in sufficient quantities and at affordable prices to meet global demand.”
While developed countries have been able to secure enough vaccine to inoculate their citizens, developing countries such as Botswana are struggling to source enough to swiftly vaccine their citizens, something which world leaders believe it would work against global recovery therefore proving counter-productive.
Since the availability of vaccines, Botswana has been able to secure only 60 000 doses of vaccines, 30 000 as donation as from the Indian government, while the other 30 000 was sourced through COVAX facility. Canada, has pre-ordered vaccines in surplus and it will be able to vaccinate each of its citizens six times over. In the UK and US, it is four vaccines per person; and two each in the EU and Australia.
For vaccines produced in Europe, developing countries are forced to pay double what European countries are paying, making it more expensive for already financially struggling economies. European countries however justify the price of vaccines and that they deserve to buy them cheap since they contributed in their development.
It is evident that vaccines cannot be made available immediately to all countries worldwide with wealthy economies being the only success story in that regard, something that has been referred to as a “catastrophic moral failure”, head of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
The challenge facing developing countries is not only the price, but also the capacity of vaccine manufactures to be able to do so to meet global demand within a short time. The proposal for a patent waiver by India and South Africa has been rejected by developed countries, known for hosting the world leading pharmaceutical companies such US, European Union, the United Kingdom, and Switzerland.
According to the Financial Times, US business groups including pharmaceutical industry representatives, have urged Biden to resist supporting a waiver to IP rules at the WTO, arguing that the proposal led by India and South Africa was too “vague” and “broad”.
The individuals who signed the letter, including Nobel laureates in economics as well as from across the arts and sciences, warned that inequitable vaccine access would impact the global economy and prevent it from recovering.
“The world saw unprecedented development of safe and effective vaccines, in major part thanks to US public investment,” the group wrote. “We all welcome that vaccination rollout in the US and many wealthier countries is bringing hope to their citizens.”
“Yet for the majority of the world that same hope is yet to be seen. New waves of suffering are now rising across the globe. Our global economy cannot rebuild if it remains vulnerable to this virus.” The group warned that fully enforcing IP was “self-defeating for the US” as it hindered global vaccination efforts. “Given artificial global supply shortages, the US economy already risks losing $1.3tn in gross domestic product this year.”