Mozambique published its proposed model for a sovereign wealth fund as it prepares to reap as much as US$96B – more than six times the size of its current gross domestic product – from liquefied natural gas projects that companies including Total are building.
The developments, which are the biggest private investments yet in Africa, could make Mozambique the continent’s second-biggest producer of the fuel. The central bank laid out plans for how the fund may function and which institutions it will report to. The proposal anticipates that the US$96B will accumulate over the lifetime of the projects.
The fund will build up savings and contribute to fiscal stability when commodity prices fluctuate, according to the document published on the Bank of Mozambique’s website on Monday. Lawmakers would regulate the fund with the Ministry of Economy and Finance managing it. The central bank will manage the fund’s operations and implement its investment policy.
The government will need to deal with escalating violence in the northern Cabo Delgado province where the projects are located before it enjoys the full benefits. Fighters linked to Islamic State in August seized the port town of Mocimboa da Praia – about 60 kilometres (37 miles) south of where Total is spending US$20B on its project. It’s not clear when the state will regain control.
The final proposal will be sent to the government after considering public comments. The southeast African nation plans to have it operating before revenue from LNG starts to flow, with first production due in 2022 from the smallest of the three projects planned.
Other key points from the central bank’s plan:
- An independent company should audit the fund’s accounts annually, and the central bank must provide quarterly updates;
- During the first two decades of LNG production, half of the state’s revenue should go to the fund and the rest to government’s budget. Thereafter 80% should go into the fund;
- When government revenues from natural resources are 10% less than what’s budgeted for, the state can withdraw as much as 4% of the previous year’s income;
- The government won’t use the fund for loan guarantees or to service debt, according to the proposal.
Mozambique defaulted on a Eurobond in 2017, and has legally challenged the validity of two related state-backed bonds worth more than US$1B at the centre of a sovereign-borrowing scandal involving US$2B in loans, most of which weren’t reported publicly.