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DIS returns P114 million Petroleum Fund

Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) has finally paid back the P114 million that was unlawfully misappropriated from the controversial National Petroleum Fund (NPF).

P230 million was reported to be misappropriated from the NPF to the DIS last year leading to a marathon case involving businessman Bakang Seretse and two other whom are charged for money laundering. However, Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security Eric Molale confirmed that a balance of P116 million still remains unrecovered at the DIS. Molale told a pack of journalists this week in a press briefing that “in June 2018, the Ministry managed to recover P114 million from DIS leaving a balance of P116 million.”

He went on to highlight that the alleged misappropriation is a matter that is currently before the courts of law and subject of investigation by the law enforcement agencies. As at 31st October 2018, Molale stated that the NPF had a balance of P76 million adding that however the money is already committed to clear government debt to oil companies for December 2017 estimated at P96 million.

He further explained that “it is important to note that even if the P230 million had not been taken out of the fund, that more funds would have still been sourced from elsewhere to assist the fund.” He said this is because at the time of the alleged misappropriation prices had already gone into an under-recovery position and at the time the government debt to oil companies stood at. According to Molale the ministry had to source funds from elsewhere in a bid to manage the government debt to the oil companies.

“So far P430 million; P100 million and P300 million were sourced from Road Levy Fund, Security of Supply Margin and Government central budget respectively to assist the NPF in reducing the debt to the oil companies. This represents a total external cash injection of P830 million.” The Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security further pointed out that occasionally, the NPF has been used to cushion consumers from upward adjustments depending on the magnitude of adjustments and the balance of the fund.

He justified: “there are cases when the magnitude of the required adjustments gets too high to be covered through price cushioning by the NPF only. As a result such a situation dictates that the prices be adjusted since the fund balance would not be in a position to pay in lieu of adjustments.”

In addition, Molale also revealed that Botswana does not have any crude oil resources and as such imports all her petroleum product requirements. These products, he said, are sourced from the international markets such as Middle East or Arab Gulf, Singapore and the Mediterranean markets and supplied through the Republic of South Africa and or Mozambique. “Therefore, the country as a price taker; has been challenged because the product prices are largely influenced by external factors which the country does not have any control of.”

These factors, Molale said, they include among others the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC)’s tactics of controlling the global oil production output; some of the major producers such as Iran being put under oil supply embargo; intensity of the global demand and; the level of the United States of America strategic oil stock inventories. According to Molale, Brent crude oil prices have increased from US$62.87 per barrel in January 2018 to US$80.63 per barrel in October 2018 or 23.25% on the average adding that this is considered to be quite significant.

“During this period, the retail pump price under-recoveries for petrol grades increased from an average of 78.69 thebe per liter in January 2018 to 146.33 thebe per liter in October 2018. The price under-recoveries for diesel grades increased from 124.78 thebe per litre in January 2018 to 225.98 thebe per liter in October 2018,” Molale highlighted. This represents an average increase of 83.53% on the price under recovery rates which is considered to be very high, he said.

He further observed: “in short, the price deficit increased rapidly from negative 124.78 thebe per liter to negative 225, 98 thebe per liter within a period 10 months (January – October 2018).” In spite of the continuous increase in the international crude oil and finished product prices, Molale highlighted that the frequency of increase of the domestic prices has been done very rarely as compared to other countries and the rest of the world.

In fact, he mentioned that most countries that regulate fuel prices adjust them more regularly on a monthly basis like the South Africa to avoid price adjustments backlogs. “The last time prices had over recovered was in August 2016 when all petrol and diesel grades over recovered by an average of 19.45 thebe per liter. The largest over-recovery ever recorded was in December 2014 when the products over-recovered by more than 235 thebe per liter. However, in adopting the regular price adjustment government is vigilant of the changes on inflation,” he concluded. 

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Khan: Boko, Masisi are fake politicians

18th January 2021
Masisi & Boko

While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.

Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.

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Ookeditse rejects lobby for BPF top post

18th January 2021
LAWRENCE-OOKEDITSE

Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.

Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.

Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”

“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.

He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.

He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.

According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.

There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.

Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.

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BDP cancels MPs retreat

18th January 2021
President Masisi

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.

“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication.
The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.

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