Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Abused” Petroleum Fund unify Parliament

“This is where we are united with opposition, or they are united with us”, says Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi as he signals his support for an urgent motion calling on Parliament to probe financial statements of the troubled National Petroleum Fund (NPF). 
“There is no how we cannot agree to this motion as it stands out to reflect and represent Botswana’s international standard of a corrupt free nation”, he continued. 

Masisi was speaking in Parliament on Friday after Special Elected Member of Parliament (MP) Mephato Reatile moved an urgent motion which read, “That this honourable house resolves that the Public Accounts Committee meets as a matter of urgency to review the National Petroleum Fund with the assistance of the Auditor General”. 

When Reatile’s motion was first read by the parliament clerk, Foreign Affairs Minister Pelonomi Venson- Moitoi did not hesitate to state her “discomfort” of discussing a matter that she said is before the courts of law. Health Minister Dorcus Makgatho became the second and only other executive Member of Parliament who stood to also oppose the motion. 

Their counterpart at the Lands ministry, Price Maele was also in total support of the motion. Maele was the acting minister of Energy for the day. The substantive Energy Minister, Sadique Kebonang, who is the custodian of the National Petroleum Fund, was not present in Parliament when the motion was debated and no explanation was given by the speaker of the national assembly for his absence. 

He recently told Parliament that the National Petroleum Fund accounts were recently (7th November 2017) transferred to First National Bank Botswana following some worrisome funds accounting experiences with the previous bank, Stanbic Bank Botswana. 
“A misappropriation of about P2 million had been noted. The money was however recovered from Stanbic hence a decision made later to transfer the fund account”, Kebonang said.   

Amongst those supporting the Friday motion on the ruling party side was Guma Moyo, who is also a member of the PAC. 
“I think Parliament should get used to holding everyone accountable, including investigating agencies”, Moyo said. 
Meanwhile the chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Abraham Kesupile said that the committee will meet in early January 2018 to examine the financials of the troubled national petroleum fund. 

Kesupile told Sunday Standard in a brief interview on Friday that his committee has since started preparations for the urgent meeting. The PAC, which will be working hand in hand with the Auditor General’s office, is likely to summon amongst others Energy Ministry Permanent Secretary (PS) Kgomotso Abi as well as the Botswana Energy Regulatory Authority (BERA) Rose Seretse.

 

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