Sunday, October 17, 2021

Motorists to pay for DIS military hardware

Secret communication inside Government has revealed that Botswana motorists may have to pay exorbitant prices for petrol and diesel because the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DISS) has misappropriated their insurance money.

Local motorists – through third part insurance – pay money into the National Petroleum Fund (NPF) as insurance against international fuel price fluctuations.

The Ministry of Mineral Resources, Green Technology & Energy Security has however suggested that it is now hamstrung from cushioning motorists from international fuel price fluctuations because the insurance money was illegally transferred to the DISS.

The Ministry further reveals that they are also failing to pay contractors building fuel infrastructure for the Government storage facilities. The contractors and creditors have already taken the ministry to court demanding payment.

In what amounts to a plea for help, by the Permanent Secretary, she says that the ministry is under “financial strain limiting it to make good payments due to its clients.”

P250 million was last year transferred from NPF to the DIS.

The DIS had earlier requested access to the money under a pretext that it would be used to build fuel storage facilities. That money was however diverted to purchase military hardware from Israel.

Even scarier is a communication from Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Mineral Resources Dr Obakeng to the head of DIS, Isaac Kgosi.

In it Dr Obakeng paints a picture of a country that is vulnerable to international fuel price fluctuations because the National Petroleum Fund is now empty.

With the NPF empty, Dr Obakeng’s biggest concern is that the Fund is not able to fulfill its mandate to creditors and is also not able to stabilize fuel prices.

“I would like to the kindly request you [DIS] to pay back into the NPF the sum of P230 million, which was paid from the NPF into an account of some company called Khulaco on behalf of the Directorate of Intelligence and Security,” writes Obakeng in a savingram dated 26th February 2018.

In that same Savingram, Dr Obakeng expresses concern that Kgosi has not responded to a similar earlier communication that followed a cabinet decision that had instructed the DIS boss to return the money to NPF.

“I refer to my correspondence dated 23rd November 2017 for which there has been no response from your good office…   I also refer to a Cabinet meeting of the 7th of February,” says the Permanent Secretary. 

She adds that in the absence of money in the NPF and also with no response from DIS, the ministry is not able to make decisions or plan ahead.

“I would appreciate if you can give visibility as to when I should expect the payment.”

The situation, says the permanent secretary has become urgent.

“This has become apparently urgent moreso that the NPF cannot cope with its commitments regarding the stabilization of fuel prices as well as payment for ongoing infrastructure projects such as the expansion of the Francistown fuel storages etc.”

In a separate appeal to the Ministry of Finance, Dr Obakeng makes it clear that a way has to be established to clarify when the DIS will pay back the NPF money.

“While we appreciate your discussion with DIS we will be grateful as to when the repayment by DIS would be credited to NPF. This will help us communicate definite position with our creditors.”

One of the contractors that have taken the ministry of minerals to court is involved in building the fuel storage in Tshele.

The matter is handled by Attorney General Chambers.

Responding to the Ministry of Minerals demands for payment, Kgosi says he needs to be furnished with proof that money was ever transferred to the DIS.

He also resorts to playing around with figures pertaining to the amounts released as well as proof of payments made from Khulaco on behalf of DIS.

“We were made to understand that the sum of P250 million NOT P230 million from NPF was deposited into the account of some company called Khulaco on behalf of DIS. It is at the instance of this that we require documentary proof indicating total amount released and deposited as well as payments made from the deposited lump sum,” says Kgosi before adding that “as for repayment of the money, consultation between the Ministry of Finance and the Directorate is on-going.”

In response to Kgosi’s communication, the Ministry of Minerals produced a spreadsheet showing how much money was transferred from the NPF to Khulaco.

“As far as we can ascertain at the moment, about P230 million was transacted into Khulaco …. Unfortunately the Ministry does not have details of payments made from the deposited lump sum as we are not privy to the instructions that were directed to Khulaco by your office. To this end we would like to be favoured with evidence copies pertaining to such for our records. We appreciate and take note of the ongoing consultation between MDED and the Directorate and would request that MMGE [Ministry of Minerals] be put in the loop as the fund is currently undergoing some financial strain limiting it to make good payments due to its clients.”  

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper