The Minister of Transport and Communications, Kitso Mokaila claims that the National Petroleum Fund (NPF) was in good health when he left his last portfolio in 2016.
The former Minister of the then Minerals, Energy and Water Resources (currently Minerals Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security) appeared before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) this week where he said that during his tenure the Fund did well and met its obligations.
Mokaila was subpoenaed to give evidence before the PAC reviewing the corruption scandal at the NPF. The PAC convened following a motion by Specially Elected Member of Parliament, Mephato Reatile requesting that there be a review of the NPF after it came out that the P250 million that was intended for the construction of fuel storage tanks ended up in Israel. Mokaila said he left the ministry in 2016, leaving the Fund exceeding its capitalisation.
“When I left the ministry, the Fund was healthy. The Fund did well. We tried to maintain it at over P600 million as we never wanted it to go into the red. In fact, we wanted to invest some of the money because that’s how healthy it was,” he told the committee.
When asked why in 2015, they opted to terminate a contract with an asset management company, which was charging low fees to the current one, Mokaila stated that he was never involved in the appointment of service
Mokaila conceded that the fees were unreasonable. When asked if the Fund met its obligations during his tenure at the ministry Mokaila answered, “In as far as I’m concerned, yes.
“There may have been some oversight issues here and there, but it did its mandate. That’s why I said we may have to tighten the law to make sure that everything comes to the minister’s table.”
He also admitted that during his tenure at the ministry, the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) requested funding for fuel storage, but never requested for variation. He said he did not know the circumstances that led to the request for variation in the current matter because it is not provided for in the Fund Order.
“The NPF is a stabilisation fund. I don’t remember being seized with any investment portfolio,” he added.