Monday, March 1, 2021

The public servants salary hike illusion

Electricity Tariffs ÔÇô 7 percent

On April 1, households started paying seven percent more for their prepaid electricity. Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) increased the electricity tariff after government approved a combination of cash injection and an adjustment to existing tariffs, as a tariff support. With the latest tariff adjustments, consumers will now pay 61 thebe pr KWh for their electricity. Last year BPC increased power tariffs by 10 percent. The power utility has been incurring huge costs from procuring power from external sources as the local power station, Morupule B continues to fail.

BPC heavily relies on Eskom for power to feed the rapidly expanding domestic demand. Data released by Statistics Botswana (SB) revealed that importation of electricity increased by 35.9 percent to 510,100 Mega Watt Hour (MWH) between the Q4:2013 and Q4:2014. In addition to the tariff increase, domestic users will now be charged P2.86 more as fixed administration fee, which covers billing costs and payment of commissions to electricity vendors for those on prepaid electricity.

?Electricity tariffs for Small Scale Business customers that consume 500kWh or less per month have been increased by 10 percent, while a 17.5 percent increase will be levied for Small Scale Business customers consuming more than 500kWh per month. Meanwhile, Medium and Large Scale Businesses, Water Pumping, Mining and Government customer categories will pay 17.5 percent more on their electricity tariffs. The Corporation has been allocated P1.5 billion to cover tariff subsidies and some operational expenses during the 2015/16 financial year.

Botswana Post Tariffs ÔÇô 15 percent

While a large number of public servants rely on government mail for their personal and work postal services, those who own private bags or post boxes will certainly have to pay more to the ‘Post Man’ beginning of next month. Botswana Post confirmed this week that it has been given the green light by the industry regulator, BOCRA to adjust its service tariffs with effect from the beginning of May.

Head of Strategy and Communications at Botswana Post, Lebogang Bok said the recent hike is on the backdrop of the last review undertaken in 2012 which has since become out of sync with current market demands for a sustainable postal business. The communal of Post Boxes and private bags have increased by an average of 15 percent, reflecting a rise from P145 to P167 for individual Post Boxes.

Water Tariffs

Following Cabinet’s recent approval of a new water tariff structure, Water Utilities Corporation (WUC) on April 1st implemented the second step of water tariffs rationalisation and adjustment of tariffs. The newly introduced wastewater tariff will be incorporated in customers’ monthly bills. The waste water tariff is charged based on consumption of potable water. A communiqu├® from the Corporation stated that WUC will implement the second step of water tariffs rationalization and adjustment of tariffs effective April 1st.

At the same time, the standard connection fee-up to 50 meters connection distance- has been increased to P2, 000, which includes WUC digging trenches and providing connection materials. The standard connection fee- up to 50 meters, with customers digging their own trenches and WUC providing connection materials, is now pegged at P1, 500.00 inclusive of VAT.??The first rationalisation was implemented in 2012 following the implementation of the Water Sector Reforms that brought about 28 different tariff structures. The main function of the Water Sector Reforms was to improve service levels for all water users in the country through equitable and cost reflective provision of quality water and waste water services.

The various water authorities that WUC took over established tariffs independently, hence the various tariffs that WUC adopted and is currently operating with from area to area.??Due to these varying tariffs, some customers used to pay up to 300 percent more than other customers for the same amount of consumption and quality of water. The first tariff rationalization reduced the number of tariffs from 28 to 11, and the recently approved structure further reduces them to five. The Corporation believes that under the new structure these inconsistencies have to a large extent been addressed.???

Medical Aid

Several medical aid providers including the leading public service sector provider, BPOMAS have since hiked their annual subscriptions fees. Just like other hikes, this means the rise will significantly slash on the take home salary for most public servants who have medical aid schemes. A few years back, the Medical Practitioners Group, the Botswana Dentistry Association and the Optometrist Group adopted the balance-billing model, which forces the patient to absorb the difference between medical aids’ tariffs and the price charged by a service provider.

At the same time, service providers complained that they have incurred costs over the years due to low tariffs dictated by medical aid schemes.

They complained that medical aid schemes are not regulated, and also dictate what happens in the industry, compromising public health. On the other hand, medical aid schemes have maintained that their tariffs are the best in the region, and increasing tariffs would also call for increased subscription fees from the public.

DSTV Subscription

Although Dstv subscribers have become accustomed to an annual pricing increase, with the monthly premium currently sitting at P610, this year’s increase was largely met with unhappiness. According to the MultiChoice General Manager Billy Sekgororoane, while making a decision to hike the prices, the company had considered many factors entailing the impact on subscribers, current inflation as well as efficiencies effected within the company that may offset the necessity for a price increase. Middle management public servants are usually amongst subscribers of Dstv.

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