THE National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (Noczim), whose debt is currently being tackled through a levy of $110 per litre on fuel importers, owes international suppliers US$171 million.
The latest debt disclosure comes against a backdrop of attempts by government, which is set to amend the Income Tax Act and Finance Act, to accommodate the setting up of the Noczim Debt Redemption Sinking levy.
The levy was set up to pay off bills incurred by the former procuring company.
It will be operational until the whole debt has been settled.
According to the Noczim foreign suppliers debt list, the parastatal owes LAFB of Libya US$58 million, BP South Africa US$14 million, Kuwait IPG US$58 million, Engen US$10 million, Caltex US$8 million, Exxor/Sanstorm US$8 million, Nordea Bank US$10 million, and PTA US$5 million.
The arrears list is as at the end of January and does not however include debts owed to local suppliers.
Finance minister Herbert Murerwa this week confirmed that the levy would be set up but referred all logistical questions on the debt issue to his permanent secretary Nicholas Ncube.
“The fund is being finalised, but I do not have the technical details of it,” Murerwa said. “Get the details from Nick Ncube. He is the one handling that issue.”
Ncube had not commented on the issue despite repeated efforts to get one. He was said to be attending a “series of meetings”.
Government deregulated the fuel sector last year and allowed private fuel firms to bring fuel into the country and sell the product at market-related prices.
To-date there are least 60 registered private fuel importing companies.
In the past, the country’s fuel import needs were being brought in by Noczim but as the debts continued to mount the company could no longer afford.
Last year during his 2004 national budget statement Murerwa proposed that as part of settling the debt fuel importers be levied.
In a typical government bureaucracy under the proposed amendments to the Income Tax Act, the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) who will eventually forward the money to the beleaguered fuel company will administer the fund.
In turn, Noczim has to ensure all the money collected on its behalf is applied towards the settlement of debts incurred during its procurement days.
It was not immediately possible to ascertain how much Noczim has so far collected over the past two months from Zimra who were still looking for the figure.
Energy and Power Development minister, Amos Midzi, defended the move of having Noczim paying the debt.
He said since Noczim was the debtor it had the legal authority to pay its creditors.