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The public purse has been saved GH¢910.4 million within a year following stringent measures instituted by the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) to curb illegal activities in the downstream petroleum sector.
From September 2017 to date, precisely GH¢892.8 million savings have been made following a significant reduction in volumes of exported products that would have been diverted for personal gains at the expense of the state; stoppage of GH¢10.6 million tax leakage on Marine Gas Oil (MGO) and a total of GH¢2.3 million has been recovered from the confiscation of 42 bulk road vehicles carrying a total of 1.4 million litres of petroleum products.
A tax revenue of GH¢5.2 million was also recovered from culprits, who had under-declared and under-invoiced their products.
The government lost close to GH¢1 billion to smugglers in 2017.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the NPA, Mr Alhassan Tampuli, told the Daily Graphic that prior to September 2017 when the NPA began rolling out new guidelines to check illegal activities, 50 million litres of petroleum products were allegedly exported monthly but the figure dropped to two million litres a month when the NPA developed new guidelines for export.
According to checks by the NPA, some companies acquired export licence, lifted products with zero tax, but diverted the products back into the market and sold them way below the market price.
Their operations led to the stifling of profit margins of genuine oil marketing companies (OMCs), which had to pay taxes, workers’ salaries and utility bills among others.
The NPA, in September 2017, developed a number of guidelines aimed at curbing the illegal activities of unscrupulous individuals and companies.
Some of the guidelines include the designation of one exit border for all petroleum product exports to Burkina Faso and Mali; no haulage of petroleum products to Togo except liquefied petroleum gas (LPG); designated dates for export loadings; application to the NPA for export licence and customs clearance.
With regard to MGO dealings, the new directive is that bunkering shall be carried out only by companies duly licensed by the NPA. Verification of documentation on vessels, bunkering companies, point of delivery and digital linkages to revenue agencies to avoid leakages are among the procedures to be followed by companies.
We are impressed
Confirming the strides made by the NPA to the Daily Graphic, the CEO of the Association of Oil Marketing Companies (AOMCs), Mr Kwaku Agyemang-Duah, commended the NPA, National Security and the government for the progress made so far.
He said the smugglers were revising their strategy and expressed the conviction that the security apparatus and the NPA would continue to be ahead of them.
“The issue is about sustaining the fight against illegal activities and we hope the fight will be sustained,” Mr Agyemang-Duah said.
The Executive Secretary of the Chamber of Petroleum Consumers (COPEC), Mr Duncan Amoah, for his part, said reports that some government functionaries aided and abetted the smuggling of petroleum products needed to be checked with urgency.
“It is our position and proposition that the phenomenon can and should be decisively dealt with and uprooted but this will take the direct involvement of the President of the Republic himself, to override any power that orders the release of these illegal operators anytime intelligence goes to round some of them up for prosecution,” Mr Amoah said.