Batswana who ply their trade in the oil industry have complained about lack of funding and monopolistic tendencies by naturalised Batswana and multi nationals, which often push them out of business.
Speaking at a consultative meeting organised by the Public Enterprises Evaluation and Privatisation Agency (PEEPA) to discuss government’s decision to fuel its fleet in local fuel stations, the locals said the petroleum industry is dominated by naturalised Batswana to the detriment of indigenous Batswana.
“How do you explain the fact that over 60 percent of all filling stations in Botswana are owned by three or four families of naturalised Batswana?
This is a clear monopoly because only these families will benefit from this initiative by government,” said one of the speakers.
They urged government to set up an indigenous economic empowerment scheme that would ensure they benefit from the initiative by facilitating access to finance.
The locals also said they would need finance to pay for their stockpiles and additional manpower so as to satisfy increased demand from government.
“Fuel is a cash-based retail business. Our suppliers want cash on delivery, which will require us to have large amounts of cash to pay for stock. But we all know about delayed payments on the part of government. If nothing is done to assist us to have capital to pay for stock, only the large operators will be able to survive and benefit from this initiative,” they said.
The local operators also urged government to level the playing field and reduce monopolies in the petroleum industry.
They also asked whether government would be buying fuel from them at pump price or tendered price, considering the logistical and administrative problems that the initiative would create.
For his part, PEEPA Director of Public Services Outsourcing, Ishmael Joseph urged stakeholders to come up with an agreeable model through which everyone could benefit from the P35million that government spends to fuel its vehicles every year.
“We must address pertinent issues because we need to have a seamless transition of fuel supply with no hiccups. We must decide on which technology to use so as to enable proper checks and balances and enhance efficiency of fuel supply,” he said.