Sunday, January 29, 2023

Food & fuel price hike infuriates GCC new mayor

The newly appointed Mayor of Gaborone City Council (GCC) Austin Abraham has condemned the continuing rise in food and fuel prices.

In his maiden full council speech, Abraham did not have kind words for those behind the increase in food and fuel prices.

“Although there is correlation between prices and commodities, some increases are not acceptable,” said the new Mayor.
He noted that the economy has not yet recovered from the Covid-19 pandemic and more challenges are emerging from forces beyond the nation’s control.

“We have all seen an increase in food and energy prices. I would like to appeal to all authorities concerned to monitor inflation developments carefully to protect households from traders who may want to take advantage of the situation,” he said.

Abraham stated further that, “We have seen that happening with potatoes and onions in the past few months gentlemen, allow me to take this opportunity and appreciate the Government for the recent move to restrict the importation of certain vegetable commodities for a two-year period, which came into effect on January 1, 2022.”

He called on households to take advantage of this opportunity by fully engaging in vegetable and fruits to reduce the impact due to high prices.

“Council will restructure the use of open spaces to accommodate urban agriculture and use of technologies like hydroponic, aquaponic and vertical production to make our City a sustainable food hub,” said Abraham.

He also implored small scale farmers around the City to tap into different value chains of agricultural production, particularly food processing.

“Issues of health safety and environment will be considered. I want to take this opportunity to commend retailers for supporting small farmers and also encourage farmers to produce quality fruits and vegetables to meet the demand,” said Abraham.

He added that, “As consumers who are faced with challenges of increasing energy such as petrol and diesel, we may have to think of alternative renewable energy and modes of transport such as the use of bicycles as done in other countries.”

He said this can only be attained if we have cyclist conducive road networks, and it is in the City’s plan to have such roads.

“This will also improve our health condition,” said Abraham.

The new Mayor acknowledged that Council is faced with the following challenges in its intention to provide service and these are: poor infrastructure management; vandalism of infrastructure; waste Management; lack of hazardous waste disposal site; sewerage nuisance. “Let me promise you that Council will improve Organizational Performance through outsourcing of targeted services; Adherence to Service Standards and development and review of regulatory frameworks and hence improved service delivery,” said Abraham.

He said Council has over time been faced with diminishing revenue base and this has proved to be compromising its ability to deliver goods and services.

“The cost of providing services has been constantly increasing over the years due to effects of inflation, increasing cost of production and increased demand for goods and services as well as the effects of COVID-19,” he said.

Abraham said it has become glaringly evident that it is no longer sustainable for Council to provide some of the services freely, or at a highly subsidized fee; hence a need for cost recovery, cost sharing and cost saving for the purposes of resource mobilization for future maintenance of projects, replacement of obsolete capital assets and acquisition of additional capital stock.

“It is again in the interest of Council to disengage itself from provision of selected services in which the private sector can effectively participate,” said Abraham.

Council is therefore, said Abraham, obliged to refocus and undertake only those activities which have the highest impact and invest on those assets with high returns and to formulate some means of broadening revenue base to augment revenue support grant received from government.

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