Monday, March 8, 2021

Inside BMC’s prime COVID 19 ‘cut’ of P115 million

The Government has injected P115 million to cushion the ever ailing Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) against the unprecedented impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.

At the time when Botswana went into a COVID 19 sponsored national lockdown early this year, the state owned beef exporting agency scaled down its weekly production to just about a quarter of its plant capacity. This was to allow for production to be staggered, allowing different process crews coming to work on different dates. The move has however resulted in limited revenue and delayed payment of creditors such as farmers. 

Given the COVID 19 slap on BMC operations, the government has since made a cash injection of P115 million. The breakdown shows that P27 million will go towards clearing Standard Chartered Bank and BancABC loans while the other disbursement amounting P88 million has been used to pay farmers. Some farmers had already dragged BMC to court for failure to pay them.

Appearing before Parliamentary Committee on Statutory Bodies and State Enterprises, BMC acting chief executive – Dr Boitumelo Mogome-Maseko said COVID-19 came with statutory lockdowns, remarkably reducing economic activity in the country. 

Dr Mogome-Maseko said that as a national asset the BMC strives to exist amid internal and external environmental challenges. She said that the meat agency is relentlessly carrying out its statutory mandate to promote the development of Botswana’s beef and related products. 

She also stated that there are alternative solutions such as the need to consider a halt on export of live cattle. 

The Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) says its position is that, live-cattle exports out of Botswana should be considered only when excess national processing capacity is addressed and only when proper regulatory frameworks are in place to protect the country against exploitation and erosion of national herd.

Instead of exporting live cattle to other countries, the BMC management are of the view that Botswana should embark on a program to increase the national herd count. 

Dr Mogome-Maseko went further to suggest that such project could be spear headed by the Ministry of Agricultural Development and Food Security or delegated as appropriate, 

She also noted the need for a speedy establishment of the much anticipated Meat regulator in view of liberalization of the Cattle Industry and control offensive competition.

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