THE Minister of Energy, Boakye Agyarko, has suggested that trucks found to have indulged in smuggling of fuel should be confiscated to the state and the owners banned forever from operating in the country.
“It is about time smugglers in the petroleum sector are dealt with like drug pushers who get their properties and third party properties confiscated to the state to serve as deterrent to others,” he stressed.
According to him, Ghana needs a draconian law to stop the act in both the private sector and the public sector of the economy.
He said there was the need for the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) to move fast by harmonising the needed laws for Parliament to pass to deal with the alarming rate of illegal exportation of petroleum products in the country he said.
The Minister made the call for the needed laws to deal with the situation at a breakfast meeting of petroleum downstream regulators organized by the NPA in Accra.
The purpose of the meeting was also to discuss NPA’s safety campaign which is intended to raise awareness for adherence to safety protocols in the industry and to educate the public on their role in preventing “fire accidents” at various petroleum installations in the country.
Mr Agyarko spoke on the measures to be rolled out by the NPA to deal with the situation as part of the authority’s National Petroleum Safety Campaign to educate players in the industry in the wake of the recent gas explosions in the across the country.
He mentioned that the NPA with the support of the ministry will introduce export guidance, issue product regime, amend the petroleum marketing scheme, and review all petroleum licenses, sanction oil marketing companies which fail the quality test as some of the measures to deal with the situation.
The smuggling in the petroleum downstream, he stated, has contributed to a decline in the business of Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) in the country.
He posited that it is only in Ghana that a truck load of petroleum products leaves the Tema port en-route to Bamako and surfaces the next day only to load for the same location.
“So in other words, the truck used a day to complete the journey to Bamako, this is what is happening in system when it comes to the illegal exportation of petroleum products in the country” he stressed.
He said these products smuggled into the country are not taxed and the people involved these illicit activities make a gain of 51 percent while their counterparts doing genuine business suffer.
Mr. Alhassan Tampuli, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of NPA, announced a decision to review all export licensing regime to check the illegal smuggling of petroleum products.
This, he said, will be followed by consultation with stakeholders to flush out the smugglers.
He called for the need for a paradigm shift to get results from the initiatives that have been rolled out with the support of the Ministry of Energy.
The authority, he added, will continue to track the trucks to ensure sanity in the petroleum downstream.