Ministry of Finance has lined up a whopping K50 billion bail-out package for financial troubled National Oil Company of Malawi (Nocma), a government-owned company, and the issue has cost Secretary to the Treasury Ben Botolo his job, Nyasa Times can exclusively reveal.
As first reported by Nyasa Times on Monday evening, Botolo has been replaced by Cliff Chiunda who was Principal Secretary (PS) administration in the Office of President and Cabinet (OPC).
Botolo, with extensive experience in the public service and has served as Secretary to Treasury for over two years, has been relocated after he did not want to be party to those arranging the “illegal bail-out” package.
“As you are all aware, Nocma has been run down by government. It is headed by Mulhakho wa Ahlomwe executive member Gift Dulla and they have ransacked it. Now they want tax payers to pay for its bail out as if those tax payers were not buying fuel at a high price already,” revealed Nyasa Times source privy to the scandal.
The source said the Treasury Czar and Minister of Finance Goodall Gondwe has lined up the K50 billion bail-out package and all the top people at the Ministry of Finance are aware of the development.
But Botolo advised the minister to seek parliamentary approval for the bail-out and this has led for his removal, according to our sources.
Insiders at Treasury said government wanted to bail-out Nocma secretly and avoided going to Parliament because it would find it had to explain why Nocma is being bailed by tax payers who are paying high prices of fuel already.
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).
Meanwhile, Botolo has confirmed that he has been “re-assigned” to the Foreign Affairs Ministry and is currently doing handovers at Treasury.
Governance and development specialist Henry Chingaipe commented that the movement of Secretary to Treasury “is one which we can say may have a motive behind it.”
Chief Secretary to Government Lloyd Muhara could not immedietly comment as he was reported to be in Dubai in what Nyasa Times understands he is sealing a petroleum deal between Nocma and Sahara.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :