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Bring sanity in fuel deals—HRDC

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Hellen Buluma

By Deogratias Mmana

Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) has asked the government to move out of its slumber and intervene in the ongoing squabbles in the fuel supply contracts.

HRDC has also taken a swipe at the Parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources for proposing that the private Petroleum Importers Limited (PIL) should be importing only 10 percent of fuel while the state owned National Oil Company of Malawi (Nocma) brings in 90 percent.

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In a statement, HRDC has cautioned the parliamentary committee against imposing its decisions on Malawians.

Instead, says HRDC, it should learn to conduct consultations first.

The coalition further says it is worried that Nocma ignored advice from the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) on the processing of fuel deals.

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Last week, Pubic Accounts Committee accused Nocma of ignoring advice from the High Court and the ACB to award fuel importation contracts to Lake Oil Limited, Dalbit International Limited and Camel Oil using ex-tank incoterm.

Instead, Nocma announced it would award the fuel contracts using a new method altogether called Delivered At Pace Unloaded (DPU).

Nocma Deputy Chief Executive Officer Hellen Buluma said ACB had cleared her organisation to take that path.

In the statement released yesterday, HRDC urged the government to rise above the challenge and bring sanity.

“Government should show leadership by facilitating meaningful dialogue between Nocma, PIL, Mera [Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority] and relevant stakeholders,” reads the statement, signed by HRDC chairperson Gift Trapence.

HRDC further said: “Because from where we stand, government seems to be taking a laissez-faire attitude towards a critical matter that has the potential to knock down the already fragile economy.”

It says it has observed that the fuel importation sector is in a man-made chaos where the creators of the situation are geared towards advancing their agendas.

“The current chaos in the sector gives room for fraud and corrupt deals that will not help this country and its citizens but only a few selected selfish individuals,” it says.

It further argues that fuel plays an integral role in the running of the country’s economy and disruptions in the sector could have serious impact on citizens.

HRDC also says it expected the parliamentary committee to stand in the middle in resolving the impasse.

“It is unfortunate to note that the committee seems to be taking sides. This approach is not only faulty but it also adds to the chaos. The problem in the fuel sector needs sobriety,” it says.

According to HRC, the fact that some of those involved in the issue are willing to ignore advice from the ACB on the processing of the deals demonstrates their desire to position themselves without regard to the country.

In a fresh angle on the row on fuel supply contracts, on Thursday, PIL warned the parliamentary committee at a meeting against proceeding with its decision to give 90 percent of fuel importation business to Nocma.

Chairperson for the committee Werani Chilenga told the Ministry of Energy at that meeting that if it does not bring the draft bill to Parliament at next sitting, they would be compelled to draft its own piece of legislation which would be brought to the august House as a Private Member’s Bill.

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