Friday, June 21, 2024

BERA expedites issuance of new fuel import licenses 

The Botswana Energy Regulatory Authority (BERA) has announced plans to fast-track the issuance of original Petroleum Products Import Licenses to previously licensed importers owned by Botswana citizens.

In a move aimed at streamlining regulatory processes and fostering inclusivity within the energy sector, BERA issued a call on Friday for all previously licensed majority citizen-owned oil companies to engage promptly with the regulatory body to facilitate the acquisition of import licenses within the prescribed timeline.

Under the new regulations, citizen-owned companies, alongside state owned Botswana Oil, are granted permission to import petroleum products but must undergo a reapplication process and meet specified requirements. The initial list of approved firms, totaling 15, was in April 2024 curated in consultation with the Botswana Unified Revenue Service (BURS) to ensure regulatory compliance.

However, the decision sparked outcry among excluded citizen-owned companies, many of which argue they have been unfairly sidelined. BERA spokesperson, Rankokwane, defended the selection process, emphasizing that licenses were prioritized for companies actively engaged in the petroleum supply chain with a proven track record of importation since their licensing in 2019.

In response to mounting grievances, BERA in April 2024 invited companies to appeal the decision with supporting evidence, reaffirming a commitment to fairness and transparency in the licensing process.

The latest notice from BERA follows recent changes in the energy sector, including state-owned Botswana Oil transitioning to assume the role of a ‘Public Entity.’ This transition stems from the amendment of the BERA Act in 2022, which included provisions for the appointment of a Public Entity tasked with importing all national petroleum product supply requirements.

Under the amended BERA Act, Botswana Oil Limited has been designated as the preferred “Public Body” to directly import petroleum products, ensuring reasonable security of supply for the country. Petroleum product regulations were subsequently developed to facilitate the provision of a petroleum product supply quota allocation, established at 90 percent through a Statutory Instrument published in the Government Gazette in 2023.

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