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Committee wants Chief Secretary out of Nocma

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Parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources and Climate Change has recommended that the new Bill be brought to Parliament to reconstitute the state-owned National Oil Company of Malawi (Nocma) and get rid of Chief Secretary to the Government as the company’s board chairperson.

The recommendation is contained in a report on the proposed reforms in the bulk procurement and management of petroleum products in Malawi which the committee’s Chairperson, Werani Chilenga, presented in Parliament on Wednesday.

Nocma was established under the Companies Act of 1984 and its current Board Chairperson is Chief Secretary to the Government, George Mkondiwa.

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As part of the public service reforms programme, the government intends to shift the procurement of petroleum products from the private operators to Nocma in a system which will involve the implementation of the bulk procurement system.

The Petroleum Importers Chilenga said the presence of Chief Secretary and many government representatives in the Nocma board calls for the improvement of the company’s governance structure to make it more transparent and independent.

“It is straight forward that there is a very thin line between him [Chief Secretary] and the head of state. We don’t want our Head of State be messed up in fuel issues if things go wrong. The Chief Secretary should not head Nocma. It is for business people

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“We have simply refrained from government involvement in issues of fuel procurement. That is not the best practice. It was only Zambia which was practicing it and they have also stopped. We are advising the government to emulate such good practices as we have highlighted in the report,” Chilenga said.

The report is based on the outcomes of meetings that the committee had with stakeholders in the petroleum products industry and the four committee members’ study tour on the best practices in the procurement and management of petroleum products in Zambia, Tanzania, Namibia and Botswana.

“From the findings of the study tours, the committee feels that Tanzania has the best model of fuel procurement out of all the countries that were visited. This is mainly because the Tanzanian model incorporates both government representatives and the private entities including small OMCs [Oil Marketing Companies]. This arrangement enhances transparency and accountability in the process of fuel procurement and management.

“In addition, the entire tendering process of fuel is open thereby making it more transparent. Further to that, the government of Tanzania does not inject financial resources in the procurement of fuel. The major role of government is just to coordinate the process. This makes government of the republic of Tanzania to use the resources in the treasury for other equally important activities,” Chilenga said.

Parliament is expected to discuss the report from Wednesday next week for adoption.

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