About 4,000 workers in the petroleum sector are likely to lose their jobs within the next few months if government fails to stop the illegal sale of petroleum products in the country.
This is the caution from the Association of Oil Marketing Companies (AOMCs).
The Association explains that the illegal trade which has been perpetrated for over year now, has also led to a massive drop in profits aside the difficulty in repaying debts owed banks.
The CEO of the Association of Oil Marketing Companies, Kwaku Agyeman-Duah disclosed this to Citi Business News at the sidelines of a press conference to outline the impact of the illegal trade on the operations of members.
“This month alone, we have had indication that over 4000 people will be redundant…if your station is running down, how do you get money to pay utilities and workers’ salaries?” he queried.
Mr. Agyeman-Duah also warned that the development if unchecked, could serve as a conduit for money laundering and terrorism financing.
“It is very worrying in the sense that government is losing revenue and we are also losing our business, it is also a seed where if not properly checked, it becomes a place where we have a source of funding for terrorism since it is a cheap source of money which could also trigger money laundering,” he said.
According to Mr. Agyeman-Duah, the other means adopted by the illegal operators for their act include; illegal diversion of export products to the domestic market, illegal diversion of non-taxed industrial products for sale as petrol as well as the dangerous practice of Tanker-to-Tanker transfer of the illegal products.
NPA intervenes at Tema Port
The concerns by the Oil Marketing Companies come at a time that the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) is intensifying moves to clamp down on the illegal fuel trade business especially at the ports.
The CEO of the NPA, Hassan Tampuli in an interview with Citi Business News last week also said that “No vessel be allowed to discharge petroleum products at the Tema port, main harbor, fishing harbor or dry dock.”
Consequences of illegal trade on the economy
The AOMCs also warned of dire consequences of the illicit trade activities on other sectors of the economy and the petroleum sector.
These are threat to the fight against the dumping of dirty fuel on the market, threat to the survival of the banking industry, rising default in the payment of petroleum taxes/levies and the exacerbation of price war.
“As a result of some dissonance on the current deregulation regime, the price war amongst OMCs are really hurting some OMCs. While efforts are being made to correct them, the presence of illegal products exacerbates the price war and inevitably leads to the sudden demise of some OMCs.”
Government to come to the rescue
The AOMCs has since given the government a two day ultimatum to get the issue addressed.
It contends that, “the government has the requisite authority, tools, instruments and relevant resources such as security institutions to “stamp out” this menace within this period. We also believe that our regulators, security operatives and the governmental agencies know the culprits and that they should act without fear or ill-will.”