MAUN – The Horticultural ban imposed by the Botswana government over a year ago took centre stage at the annual Hospitality and Tourism Association of Botswana (HATAB) conference held in Maun last week.
On one end, it was government ministers led by Fidelis Molao responsible for Agriculture and junior minister at Investment, Trade and Industry Beauty Manake. On the other it was the HATAB community led by board chairperson Joe Motse and Chief Executive Lilly Rakorong.
In 2021 government invoked the Control of Goods, Prices and Other Charges Act to impose restrictions on imports of some horticultural products including butternuts, cocktail tomatoes, tomatoes, onions, green mealies and chilies. Recently the government announced that it is expanding the list by adding cucumbers to the prohibited goods.
On Friday, the HATAB community wanted Molao to explain if the government would not consider to immediately halting the ban on the horticultural products as it has proved to have a negative impact on the hospitality sub-sector.
In his response, Molao said that while the ban is to go on for the next eight or so months, “A review process of the ban will be triggered even before the elapse of the two year period that was set in 2021”.
Unhappy with the government’s response, HATAB members resolved to officially write government and request an immediate Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) of the impact of the ban. The resolution to request a RIA was part of the over eight resolutions which were taken at this year’s conference held under the theme, “Tourism: An engine that fosters sustainable growth”.
The Hospitality and Tourism Association of Botswana (HATAB) was formed in 1982 and over the past 41 years, the association has helped to improve and promote the tourism industry which is the second-largest contributor to the country’s economy. In addition, HATAB ensures that high standards are maintained throughout the industry.