Ghana

'Only Akufo-Addo can solve this' - MP charges president over ¢1.8bn fuel smuggling cartel

A Member of Parliament says President Akufo-Addo is the last line of action needed to break a petroleum smuggling syndicate that has led to losses of up to ¢1.88bn in government revenues.

"Only Akufo-Addo can solve this", National Democratic Congress (NDC) MP for Yapei/Kusawgu constituency in the Northern region, John Jinapor told Joy FM's Top Story Monday.

His comments follow a report by the Chamber of Bulk Oil Distributors detailing systematic revenue losses due to smuggling and under-declaring of receipts.

The Chamber's CEO Senyo Hosi has fingered persons within the presidency, Ghana Revenue Authority and National Security of shielding and aiding the nefarious gang.

He refused to mention names but was emphatic their identities are "open secrets".

John Jinapor said the loss of almost ¢2bn represents "a huge leaking basket" for a government that is in need of funds to execute ambitious plans.

The MP said the president needs to "sit up" because the entire system to check illegal activities is "broken". He said the amount lost represents the entire expected revenue from the oil production for 2017.

John Jinapor said while there were "isolated" cases of smuggling under the previous administration it has gotten worse under the Akufo-Addo government.

The former deputy minister said the Mahama government tackled the problem to the "barest minimum" by adopting easier ways to track the movement of petroleum products.

One of such ways is to refine crude oil in Ghana to make it easier to track instead of exporting it for refinement to be brought back through the ports, he said.

President John Mahama put "the right people in place" and also received regular briefings on petroleum smuggling.

CEO of the CBOD Senyo Hosi backed a call for non-partisan probe instead of a bi-partisan probe arguing past and current governments are all implicated in the scandal.

He expressed disappointment that "nobody has taken the real actions we need". Senyo Hosi also added a demand for an independent auditing of government accounts on petroleum by auditors of international repute.

He charged government to tackle the "low hanging fruits" in the downstream petroleum sector before taking on "barons" and offered to help. "I have indicated a 1001 times my willingness to assist them in the entire process.

Head of Communications at Energy ministry Nana Damoah stressed government is "very, very willing" to tackle the problem. He listed the impounding of 15 tankers smuggling oil into the country as evidence of action.

The Head of Communications at the ministry said tankers that lift non-taxable fuel for export are now required to pay the taxes on the products and can come for it after proving the petroleum products have indeed being exported.

He urged patience observing that tackling organised crimes can take a long time. Nana Damoah asked for public support to help expose syndicate allegedly operating within the presidency, GRA and national security.

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