Business News of Saturday, 2 December 2017
The 2016 flagbearer of the Progressive People’s Party (PPP), Papa Kwesi Nduom, is calling for an end to government control of premix fuel distribution in the country.
He says fishermen must be allowed to buy premix fuel directly at fuel stations.
Papa Kwesi Nduom’s comment comes on the back of the recent premix fuel diversion scandal that has rocked the Ministry of Fisheries and the National Premix Committee.
In a Facebook post, Dr. Nduom, who is also the Chairman of Groupe Nduom, said making premix fuel readily available for the fishermen will help curtail all the incidents of diversions and the high cost of the product.
“Why can’t a fisherman take his or her money to a petrol station and buy pre-mix fuel without fuss? Why allow greedy politicians to mess around with the livelihood of the fishermen who are already struggling to make a living?” he quizzed.
The NPA in series of letters dated between January and October 2017, informed the National Premix fuel Committee and the Fisheries Ministry to take action against some Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) that are involved in the diversion of the product meant for fisher-folk in the country’s coastal communities.
The OMCs, according to the letter, took the consignment of pre-mix fuel at the Tema Oil Refinery, supposedly to be supplied to fishing communities outside Accra, but ended up supplying them within Accra often to industries at higher cost.
The development, which has persisted for several months, appears to be a major factor for the collapsing fishing industry, with a decline in local fish production and increase in fish imports.
Following the publication by Citi FM, many stakeholders have charged the government to take a serious view of the situation and act to avert it.
Below is the full statement of Dr. Papa Kwesi Nduom
I don’t get this, about pre-mix fuel.
It has been reported in the media that…” The National Petroleum Authority (NPA), is frustrated by what it has discovered to be massive diversions of pre-mix fuel loaded from the Tema Oil Refinery. Yes, I get it the state subsidizes this type of fuel.
But we have been subsidizing others too over the years.
Why can’t a fisherman take his/her money to a petrol station and buy pre-mix fuel without fuss? Why allow greedy politicians to mess around with the livelihood of the fishermen who are already struggling to make a living? I come from a fishing town, Elmina and I know what I am talking about. The government should find a better, direct way to help fishermen. Including safeguarding our part of the ocean from illegal fishing by both locals and foreigners.
At least 200 cases of premix fuel diversions have been cited by the National Petroleum Authority (NPA), since January 2017.
The Ministry of Energy, in May 2017, subsequently ordered the Fisheries Ministry to probe the companies alleged to be complicit in the fuel diversion, but that did not happen.
When quizzed on her role in the scandal by Citi News, Mrs. Afoley Quaye said the NPA was in a better position to act on the widespread diversion of premix fuel, because her Ministry did not have a tracking system to identify culprits.
Elizabeth Afoley Quaye, also defended her decision to appoint her brother as the Acting Administrator of the National Premix Secretariat, saying he was competent enough and has since left the position and been replaced by a substantive appointee.
Scrap ‘badly executed’ premix policy – Wereko-Brobby
Dr. Charles Wereko-Brobby, who once served as policy adviser when the sale of premix fuel for fisher-folk was instituted, has also suggested that the whole policy as currently exists must be scrapped.
Whilst the policy introduced in 1990 was intended to help fisher-folk, Mr. Wereko-Brobby said “the intent was badly executed.”
The diversion has been viewed as extremely scandalous considering that in 2016 for example, $45 million was signed in subsidies to help fisher-folk in Ghana, whose livelihood has been in sharp decline.
“How much of the $45 million [in 2016] actually went to fishermen? It went to unscrupulous middlemen who sit on committees and misuse the funds of Ghana because they sell it off as fuels for ordinary engines. So let’s go back to square one and do the right thing.” Charles Wereko-Brobby suggested.
Premix subsidy only going into private pockets – Senyo Hosi
The Executive Director of the Chamber of Bulk Oil Distributors (CBOD), Senyo Hosi, says government needs to consider scrapping the subsidy on premix fuel, since such monies are only ending in private pockets through the diversion of the commodity meant for the country’s fisher-folk.
“The NPA I’m aware has fined some of these OMCs and some of them have paid, indicating that some of these OMCs are complicit. There is criminality associated with this, what must happen is that, people be held accountable and responsible. We have to start with the premix secretariat and the Fisheries Ministry. Why are they not cooperating with the NPA. The institutions that are failing to cooperate with the NPA must be brought to book,” he said.
“I’ll expect that the presidency should take a keen interest in this because the presidency oversees all these institutions….We should possibly even have an open inquiry because it has been lingering on for a long time. We may even need to consider scrapping this entire subsidy thing because the subsidy for premix is largely ending in private people’s pockets,” he told Richard Sky on Eyewitness News.