The Chairman of the National Pre-mix Fuel committee, Nii Lantey Bannerman, has said his outfit does not have the power to sanction persons who divert subsidized premix fuel meant for fishermen to other areas to be sold to industries.
According to him, only the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) can sanction or withdraw the licenses of the Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) who perpetuate such acts.
The NPA, has only complained about massive diversions of pre-mix fuel loaded from the Tema Oil Refinery, leaving fishermen who are supposed to receive the fuel stranded.
[contextly_sidebar id=”ipFLZsFaJ7oeLrKpXoZenAXhNZh5b4aR”]Per the NPA’s numerous letters written to the National Premix Committee since the beginning of 2017, it has been established that premix fuel consignments loaded from the Tema Oil Refinery, were not delivered to the intended destinations indicated on the invoices and returns of the OMCs.
This comes on the back of the country’s dwindling fish stock which has compelled government to import over 600,000 metric tonnes of fish annually.
But speaking on the Citi Breakfast Show on Monday over the development, the Chairman of the Pre-mix Fuel Committee, Nii Lantey Bannerman, seemed helpless, and would not take any blame for the situation, although landing beach committees under its control, are found issuing voices even without receiving the consignments.
Nii Lantey Bannerman however called on the NPA to deal with the perpetrators.
“At the end of the day, the onus lies on the NPA to sanction. If you look at it well, the penalties charged go to the NPA. So we made it clear to the NPA that either they strip the OMCs of their licenses or prosecute. That thing doesn’t lie with us. It lies with the NPA as the regulator.”
“From where we sit, we don’t have the power to prosecute, we don’t even have the power to take on these OMCs, it lies with the NPA to do that. That mandate has been given to them, and we are executing was is expected of us,” he stressed.
Some of the diversions were legal
Mr. Bannerman also noted that, some of the diversions captured by the NPA are as a result of re-allocation, but said such instances are negligible compared to the magnitude of the diversions.
“There are re-allocations that also happen, and if NPA doesn’t update its system on time, it is captured as diversion. But we have records to show that some of them we issued reallocation because at the time of sending the fuel, some other area might be in dire need of it. It’s very negligible,” he added.
12 major diversions in January alone
A document sighted by the Citi News from the NPA indicated that, there were 12 major diversions of pre-mix fuel in January alone.
There have been over 200 diversions between January and October 2017.
Although the NPA identified the challenge, very little seem to have been done to arrest the situation.
Citi News has sighted series of letters from the NPA to the National Pre-mix committee, informing them about the diversions between February and October, but no action had been taken.
In one of the letters, the NPA said, “it was also noted that officials of the Landing Beach Committees (LBCs) of these intended destinations have signed and stamped the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) Fuel Delivery forms as having received the product. This constitutes a misrepresentation of the facts of the deliveries to the UPPF. In view of this, the UPPF Secretariate has rejected all freight claims in respect of these suspected diversions.”
It is unclear why the NPA which has the power to prosecute, has chosen to be writing letters for all these months, when the illegality still continues.
OMCs making abnormal profit from diversions
The government is spending several millions of cedis subsidizing the cost of premix fuel for fishermen, who are buying it at Gh7.20 pesewas per gallon.
Per Citi News’ calculations, the diversions from January to October alone, has cost the country about 7 million cedis.
However, there are reports that those diverting the product are selling it to industries about two times the price, thereby creating artificial shortages in the fishing communities, and denying fishermen their due.
By: Godwin Akweiteh Allotey/citifmonline.com/Ghana