Revelations that the state lost some $490 million last year to the activities of a petroleum cartel has gotten the nation talking and two key industry stakeholders have called for government action.
The Chamber of Bulk Oil Distributors (CBOD) and Chamber of Chamber of Petroleum Consumers (COPEC) say the implications to the industry if the cabal continues to gain ground would be devastating.
“The people behind this cabal, unfortunately, seem to be gaining grounds and some have become very powerful politically,” said Duncan Amoah, Executive Secretary of COPEC.
At the 4th Annual General Meeting of CBOD held recently, the Chamber’s CEO, Senyo Hosi, revealed that the state was robbed a staggering GH¢490 million in 2016 from tax evasion on petroleum products smuggled onto the Ghanaian market.
According to him, the smuggled products sell at 20%-45% below the relevant pump pricing and cause the margins of distributors to fall below economic levels.
He revealed that the criminals evade the taxes through dumping of products intended for exports into the country as well as sourcing products from boats and small ships and supplying them illegally onto the Ghanaian market.
When Mr Hosi appeared on current affairs programme, PM Express, on the Joy News channel on Multi TV, Monday to shed light on the matter, he said there is collusion across the petroleum distribution chain.
“Definitely there will be officials in the National Security involved, officials in the NPA [National Petroleum Authority] definitely involved, there definitely officials of the Ghana Revenue Authority involved and definitely there are also operators within the private sector as well as some the parastatals involved. It is a whole chain…as we speak this is still ongoing,” he said.
It would seem that state officials would be surprised to learn of Mr Hosi’s revelations, but that is not the case.
At the CBOD AGM was CEO of the National Petroleum Authority (NPA), Hassan Tampuli, who noted the revenue accrued from evading taxes has become an incentive that causes recalcitrant Petroleum Service Providers (PSPs) to continue to dump products intended for exports into the country.
He added that some dealers source petroleum products from boats and small ships and supply them onto the Ghanaian market illegally.
Tampuli, however, warned that sanctions such as the permanent revocation of licence of the members of the cabal would be applied sternly.
According to him, the sanctions would include custodial sentences and fines.
Speaking on PM Express, Mr Duncan said the persistence of the problem under different governments points to something sinister.
“If the state does not know the traces of these activities that would be a lie. In fact, most of them are known. Unfortunately closing in on them that has been the problem.
“Sometimes you are tempted to believe it is state-sponsored. Meanwhile, the state could have done very well with these revenues,” he told show host Nana Ansah Kwao IV.