Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe has expressed ignorance on the reasons why Secretary to the Treasury Ben Botolo has been transferred and that he was not aware that government is preparing a whopping K50 billion bail-out package for financial troubled National Oil Company of Malawi (Nocma), a government-owned company.
Botolo has been transferred to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation on the same portfolio while principal secretary (PS) administration in the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) Cliff Chiunda now takes the Treasury mantle.
In an earlier report, Nyasa Times indicated that the issue of Nocma bailout has cost Botolo his job at Treasury.
But in a telephone interview with Minister of Finance Gondwe, he said the issue of Botolo being re-assigned came to his knowledge when a journalist was interviewing him after Nyasa Times first reported.
“I was not aware that Botolo has been transferred until a journalist was interviewing me on the matter,” said Gondwe.
Gondwe said he does not know the reasons for the reassignment.
However, the country’s purse keeper dismissed the issue of Nocma bailout.
“I don’t know anything about Nocma bail. It’s not true,” he said.
Sources had indicated Botolo was against some government officials arranging the “illegal bail-out” package.
Gondwe said the issue of Nocma bailout is neither here nor there.
The minister said Botolo as the controlling officer has the right to give opinion on where to approve funding or not funding for NOCMA.
He said Botolo is not the final authority, so, by giving his opinion cannot be the reason to be fired .
Nocma has been run down by supporting ruling party cadres with obscene contracts worth millions of Kwachas and has been fighting to take over importation of fuel products in the country from privately owned and efficient Petroleum Importers Limited (PIL).
PIL—a consortium of fuel importing companies—agreed to Nocma’s proposal to be importing 50 percent of fuel into country with the other half to be handled by Nocma over a 10-year period.
In 2015, the Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining announced that government had decided that Nocma would be the sole importer of fuel and would be selling it to owners of filling stations as it had capacity to keep about 60 to 90 days of fuel for the country following construction of fuel reserves in Blantyre, Lilongwe and Mzuzu.
The fuel reserves were built with a line of credit from India amounting to $26.4 million (about K19 billion).
Chief Secretary to Government Lloyd Muhara could not immedietly comment as he was reported to be in Ukraine.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :