Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (Mera) has dragged Petroleum Importers Limited (PIL) to court for failing to remit to it over K2.6 billion (about $8.7 million) in collected levies.
This is according to a statement of claim Mera has filed at the Commercial Division of the High Court in Blantyre under case number 137 of 2012.
Reads Meraâ€™s statement dated September 26 2012: â€œThe defendant owes the plaintiff outstanding levies in the sum of K2 237 963 882 based on various importation bills of liquid fuels verified through management accounts submitted by the defendant to the plaintiff from December 2011 to February 2012.â€
The statement, signed by Meraâ€™s lawyer Zione Ntaba, adds that PIL further owes the regulator K376 880 561 in outstanding levies from March 2012 to June 2012.
The statement says PIL refused and failed to remit the levies despite management accounts showing that the amount was outstanding and due at the time Mera made the request for remittance.
Mera is demanding K2 614 644 443 and interest at the ruling bank lending rate from the date the levies were due until the date of payment.
The energy regulator also seeks interest at two percent above the bank lending rate for the â€œelement relating to the rural electrification levyâ€ and the costs of â€œthis action.â€
â€œIf within the time for returning the acknowledgement of service the defendant pays the amount claimed and K850.00 for costs and if, the plaintiff obtains an order for substituted serviceâ€¦further proceedings will be stayed. The money must be paid to the plaintiff, his solicitor or agent,â€ the statement concludes.
PIL is licensed under the Liquid Fuels and Gas Act Cap 50:03 of the Laws of Malawi and is obliged to comply with the Act and Energy Regulation Cap 73:02 in relation to its importation section of its business, which includes remitting levies on liquid fuel sales to Mera within 45 days from the date of sale or billing of the liquid fuels, according to the statement of claim.
Last week, Weekend Nation reported that Malawi could face another fuel crisis as government and Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) try to clear issues surrounding money the two parties owe each other.
OMCs warned that Malawians risk sleeping at fuel stations again queuing for fuel if authorities further delay the release of at least K11.5 billion in unpaid loss compensations that could shore up their working capital and avert a potential crisis.
But Weekend Nation also established that while importers are pressuring government to pay for their losses, they too have failed to remit levies to government now estimated at K9.6 billion.
The OMCs argued that the under-recoveries have contributed to their failure to remit levies to Mera.