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Ecama faults govt on fuel import role shift

The Economics Association of Malawi (Ecama) has faulted government over its plan to shift the role of fuel importation for the country from a private consortium, Petroleum Importers Limited (PIL), to the state-owned National Oil Company of Malawi (Nocma).

This comes barely a day after the International Monitory Fund (IMF) also warned against the move through a statement where the fund is calling for openness and protection against overburdening the national budget with the change.

Ecama Executive Director, Edward Chilima, said in an interview that fuel importation is already better off in the hands of the private sector players which he said has the capacity, competence and motivation to manage it better.

“The opinion of most [Ecama members] economists is that we should not move the task to a government-controlled institution. Government has its own inefficiencies and a business is a business.

Although oil is a strategic product, efficiency in terms of pricing and distribution is better handled by the private sector,” said Chilima.

He said what is required from the government are right policies and a conducive environment for the private sector to operate in.

Chilima also doubted Nocma’s ability to take over the task, saying the company may not be ready to handle that type of an assignment.

“The private sector is better positioned and the government should be advised to maintain the operation as it is,” he said.

President Peter Mutharika has, however, approved the shift but the Parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources, Environment, Energy and Climate has expressed its misgivings on the proposal.

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