Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Indigenous Batswana demand larger stake in petroleum industry

Indigenous Batswana on Friday called on government to eradicate monopolies and oligarchs in the local petroleum industry.

Speaking at a consultative forum organised by the Public Enterprises Evaluation and Privatisation Agency (PEEPA) to formulate ways through which government can fuel its fleet in local fuel stations, numerous indigenous Batswana complained that the industry is dominated by Batswana of Indian origin who use their economic muscle to push them out of business.

When making a presentation to fuel industry players, Ishmael Joseph ÔÇô Director of Public Services Outsourcing at PEEPA said the objective of the consultative meeting was to consult fuel industry players and stakeholders with a view to identifying models through which government would be able to fuel its fleet in privately owned petrol stations.

“This initiative is also in line with our mandate as a privatisation agency. Privatisation is about full or partial transfer of assets and services from the state to the private sector. It can be done through divestiture, sale of shares, strategic equity partnerships, management or employee buyouts, outsourcing , leasing or transfer of provision of services to the private sector,” said Joseph.

He revealed that government currently fuels its fleet in 33 fuelling points and 27 satellite facilities across the country at a cost of about P350 million per annum.

“It is important for us to discuss and come up with a working model because we have two fuel supplies contracts that will end in June 2019. However, if there is need for further consultation we will ask government to extend the contract,” he said.

After the consultation process, government will then implement the outsourcing of fuelling services to the private sector in phases.

However, said Joseph, government will continue using some strategic fuel points even after a working model has been agreed upon.

Key issues that were addressed at the consultative forum covered the need for seamless fuelling and transition from the current system as well as identification and installation of the right technology to enable controls, eliminate abuse and enhance service efficiency.

“We must also interrogate whether the Central Transport Organisation (CTO) and government ministries have processes and structures in place to ensure smooth take-off,” he said.

When commenting on the matter, fuel industry players urged government to put in place an empowerment scheme that would ensure that indigenous Batswana benefit from the initiative.

“We must make sure that indigenous Batswana benefit from this scheme. As we speak over 60 percent of all fuel stations in Botswana are owned by three or four families. Government must also explain whether the outsourcing will be availed to multinationals or local fuel station owners,” they said.

They also expressed misgivings about delayed payments on the part of government.

“We are a cash based retail business. Government has to explain to us how they are going to deal with the issue of delays in payments. We also want to know whether or not the services will be provided at pump price or tendered price because these developments have serious financial implications for us in terms of increasing storage, stock and manpower,” they said.

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper

The Telegraph September 30

Digital edition of The Telegraph, September 30, 2020.