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BMC was shambolic – Ian Thompson

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Appearing before the ParliamentSelect Committeethat is investigatingthe decline of the BotswanaMeat Commission (BMC) andthe cattle industry, former actingChief Executive Offi cer ofthe organisation, Ian Thompsonsaid that the organisation wasshambolic during his tenure.The British national told theCommittee that BMC is paralysedby its decisions, bothat the board and managementlevels. The chairperson of theCommittee, Mephato Reatilehad asked him whether he wasaware that he cost BMC a lot ofmoney when he appointed SivaPrasad as his fi nancial advisor.Thompson said that he didnot see any cost to the BMC atthe time because there was nocontrol of fi nances.

 

“I askedPrasad to come and assist mewith fi nancial advice as wehad no fi nance director at thetime and the man had intimateknowledge of BMC fi nances.He carried out all the work andhe had said that for tax purposeshe wanted payments to be addressedto his company. If thereis anything wrong or procedurallyincorrect then I put myhands up,” he said.It appeared that Prasad wasappointed in June 2012 and hisletter of appointment by theBoard was written in August2012 after he had already resumedhis services. Thompsontold the committee that Prasad’sagreement was done verballyuntil it was approved by theBoard some months later.Prasad, under a company calledConsulting Unlimited, pocketednearly a million Pula within athree-month period from Juneto August.

 

He was paid P1, 500an hour to practice as ‘fi nancialadvisor’ to the state enterprise.He was also paid P8.00 per kilometrefor using his own car,even though the BMC mileageclaim was P2.50 per kilometre.Another member of the Committee,Prince Maele askedThompson to name the individualswho determined thepayment for Prasad’s services.Maele further wanted Thompsonto explain how BMC wouldhave taken him to task on issuesof responsibility and accountabilitynow that he was not theiremployee but rather a volunteer.“It took long to get throughthe Board for approval. I naivelybelieved that I was giventhe green light to go ahead withhis appointment. I proposed tothe Board for him to be paidP1, 500 (per hour) after whichhe brought his own fees and Irejected them. We never anticipatedthat Prasad would be therefor a long time.

 

The anticipationwas for a period of 6-8 weeksbut at the end he had stayed for10-11 weeks,” he revealed. Hefurther said that he was not answerablefor his actions becausehis sole intention was to assistthe organisation. He said theMinister should be the one answerableto the MPs’ questions.He said Prasad managed toiron out all the strange bank accountsthat existed and he furtherstopped all unsigned bankcheques.He further revealed that he,Prasad and one Martin Shuttlewent to Germany to proposethe closure of Carmen Islands,German and UK offi ces; notingthat by doing so this wouldhave generated P300 million atthe end of 2012.

 

Amongst other concerns thatThompson said he had raisedbefore the Minister were thatthe business model at BMC waswrong and the organisation wasnot properly run and therefore,the government was going tokeep pumping millions to rescueit.He also indicated that BMCis not a viable entity althoughaccording to him, it is an easyorganisation to run. “There istoo much politics, racism andnal feuds in the BMC. The BMC isalso controlled by the DVS (Departmentof Veterinary Services) as it is theone that determines the time to slaughterand the time to dispatch, so theyshould be held accountable,” he said.

 

He pointed out that he had recommendedfor a Board that was commerciallyminded. “However, it is diffi cultto get commercially and competentboard members that cannot be conflicted. I wanted the Minister to forma new board from scratch and I did notwant to be part of it either,” he said,concluding by saying that BMC shouldbe commercialised and should not continueto run as a parastatal institution.

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