The Parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources and Climate Change says the government-owned National Oil Company of Malawi (Nocma) should have a lion’s share in fuel importation.
The committee’s chairperson Welani Chilenga said this on Friday in Lilongwe when they toured strategic fuel reserves to appreciate Nocma’s readiness to start transporting fuel through rail from Nacala Port in Mozambique.
He said: “When we had Covid-19, Petroleum Importers Limited [PIL] scaled down importation of fuel.
“Suppose there was no Ncoma, what could have happened to this country? It could have been disastrous.”
Chilenga acknowledged the challenges that Nocma faces in importing fuel, saying most of the country’s fuel comes through Dar es Salaam Port in Tanzania instead of it being loaded at Mbeya, a dry port located 100 kilometres from Karonga.
“We think Malawi fuel has to be loaded at Mbeya as opposed to Dar es Salamm, which is 1 000 kilometres from Karonga,” he said.
Chilenga said the committee will lobby that all transporters should be loading fuel from Mbeya as the port has all the required facilities and the arrangement could also benefit Malawian transporters.
On her part, Nocma deputy chief executive officer Hellen Buluma commended the parliamentary committee for touring its facility.
She said Nocma makes K2 per litre importation margin when they sell fuel on wholesale.
Buluma said this undermines the company’s operations as Nocma handles the product which comes into their tanks.
She said Nocma loses K7 per litre in handling despite meeting those costs elsewhere, adding that they want the committee and Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority to revise the importers’ margin.
Lilongwe strategic fuel reserves have the capacity of 25 million litres.