Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (Mera) owes the Road Fund Administration (RFA) about K4.5 billion in overdue levies for road maintenance and construction, it has been established.
RFA finance director Alex Makhwatha confirmed the outstanding amount in an interview on Wednesday.
He said: “That [audit] report is true and it is from our auditors. The figure that is in those reports is current. Usually, Mera pays us after 52 days which is almost two months and it is to do with [fuel] importers taking their time to do reconciliations and, of course, other logistics.
“That is why we have such a figure [outstanding]. Otherwise, Mera has been remitting the funds and we do not have a problem with them.”
But a report The Nation has seen shows that Mera has not remitted levies collected on behalf of RFA for over 120 days (about four months), leading to the accumulation of the K4.5 billion.
“The fuel levy is receivable from the Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority. The amount is supposed to be received within 52 days of importation of fuel into the country,” reads in part RFA financial statements compiled by KPMG, an audit, business and advisory firm.
But Mera spokesperson Fitina Khonje denied knowledge of the amount, saying Mera regularly remits levies to RFA.
She said: “Mera does not owe the Roads Fund any amount of money. Mera has never, at any point, in time delayed to remit levies to Roads Fund. According to law, Mera receives levies from importers of fuel after 45 days from the date of sale of the fuel and, once Mera receives the levies we are obliged by law to remit the levies after seven days to relevant beneficiary institutions which include Road Fund Administration.”
Mera’s delayed remittance of the levies collected from petroleum pump prices comes against a background of the institution illegally diverting K3 billion to State produce trader Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) in February this year for the purchase of maize.
In a letter dated May 19 2016 addressed to Mera board chairperson Bishop Joseph Bvumbwe, Secretary to the Treasury Ronald Mangani demanded a refund of the funds to the Price Stabilisation Fund (PSF).
In the course of a probe into the transaction, Mera in August sent on leave its chief executive officer Ralph Kamoto and director of finance Elias Hausi to pave the way for investigations.
Mera was also ordered to recover K3 billion diverted to Admarc but the energy regulator is yet to collect the money.
The Mera-Admarc transaction was exposed by our sister newspaper, Weekend Nation, in March.
PSF is an account that accumulates funds from fuel pump sales to cushion any changes in fuel products to ensure stability. n