Thursday, July 9, 2020

FSG, Botswana Life reported to Insurance Council

An association of local funeral service providers has reported the Funeral Services Group (FSG) and Botswana Life Insurance to Botswana Insurance Council alleging unfair competition and monopoly. In a strongly worded letter to the insurance council, the Funeral Parlor Association Botswana(FAPB) takes no prisoners stopping short of accusing Competition Authority, Non Bank Financial Institutions Regulatory Authority (NBFIRA), Motor Vehicle Accident Fund (MVA) and the government of being complicit to the unfair competition.

“Let me emphasize that we do know that the relationship between the aforementioned companies is solidified by the ownership of shares by Botswana Life in the FSG group, therefore it is this kind of relationship which stifle competition and encourages monopoly because the insurance company is insuring life policies of different customers with the right to choose their parlor of choice,” states the letter, signed by Bushie Mosala the Association’s Secretary General. It continues to mention that this does not happen because Botswana Life as an insurer does not give customers such leverage but rather direct them to its business partner, FSG to the exclusion of all service providers. This creates monopoly within the industry as other funeral parlors are unable to benefit from the said insurance company. “We suggest therefore that as a way of increasing customer freedom and flexibility in choosing their funeral parlor of choice, there shouldn’t be direct relationship between insurance companies and funeral parlors.

Meaning, insurance companies must stick to their own profession of insuring people while funeral parlors must compete on their own profession without any direct influence from these companies.” The buying of shares in the funeral parlor, the letter states, indicates that Botswana Life is directly minimizing competition in that other funeral parlors cannot benefit from the same insurance company since it is loyal to one parlor which provides it direct earning. To argue that it is up to a customer to choose a funeral parlor of their choice does not hold water in that the staff of the insurance will directly or indirectly influence customers to choose their sister company as the funeral parlor by compulsion. The association then cites examples where Batswana who had Botswana Life funeral policies were forced to forfeit their policy benefits because the insisted on burying their dead through a funeral companies other than FSG. “On the 16th March 2013 Mosala Funeral Directors in Lobatse was given a corpse of the late Mr. Mokwadi Busang by the sister, Polokego Busang -Mosala.

Apparently this was an agreement of the family as the younger brother Mr. Stephen Busang had a funeral cover with Botswana Life incorporation with Lyn’s Funeral Parlor.” “He was advised that he could claim all the due to him if the corpse was to be held by Lyn’s, failing which he ought to forfeit his claim due to the fact that a different parlor is handling the transaction .

He opted to forfeit the dues and was given food voucher upon been forced to write a letter for the same forfeiture.” The letter goes on to cite other similar examples. The association also took the government to task for complicity in the creation of a monopoly and seeks an explanation on why corpses are always transferred from the government mortuaries to those of the FSG group.

“We also need answers as to who authorizes the removal of corpses of these clients to Lyn even though family members did not authorize it?” Government is also accused of sabotaging private mortuaries when it comes to tendering. They prefer giving tenders to supposedly ‘big brands’. “Our members are sabotaged by government when it comes to supply of goods and services to big departments like BDF, Police, Prisons etc, and strictly buy from FSG. Government never engages our members when it comes to transportation of corpses, provision of services outside the country except the two funeral parlors- FSG and Pule. Burial services of Dignitaries, Ministers and Members of Parliament, etc are done by FSG as they are in partnership with Botswana Life.

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Sunday Standard July 5 – 11

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of July 5 - 11, 2020.