Ghana lost over $150 million to fuel smuggling in September and November 2016, the Executive Secretary of the Chamber of Petroleum Consumers has said.
Duncan Amoah believes the country will lose billions if the activities of black marketeers are not halted.
He was speaking about the illegal activities of a fuel smuggling syndicate that appear to be rife in Ghana.
“We have insisted the government should go after these people, arrest and prosecute them and as much as possible, put in measures to curtail these illegal activities which are making the country lose so much,” he said.
Mr Amoah does not understand why in other countries those who evade taxes are dealt with ruthlessly, yet in Ghana, many people who have found disingenuous ways of making money are allowed to go scot-free.
“…People have been able to use unapproved routes to bring products into the system and have been able to sell same and no individual has been arrested,” he regretted.
He warned the Chamber will soon name and shame those protecting the people engaged in the illegal activities if they do not stop.
“Let us send a word of caution to those officials who are also shielding these criminals that we will be forced to expose themselves very soon if they continue shielding these criminals who bring these products into the country and refuse to pay any taxes whatsoever,” he stated.
He said OMCs which used to buy 6million litres of fuel a month are now doing half despite the fact that demand and purchase of fuel has gone up.
“…It is not because Ghanaians are no longer buying fuel or the Ghanaian economy has ground to a halt.
“What is happening is that people are still buying fuel. Demand has rather gone up because there are more vehicles on the street but surprisingly the OMCs that pay genuine taxes to the state seem to be losing volumes because there is an influx of products into the market from these black galamsey oil operators and we think the government must take it seriously,” he stated.
In a reaction, the National Petroleum Authority says it has made some strides in the fight against illegal fuel operators.
The Acting Chief Executive of the NPA Hassan Tampuli said they are vigorously arresting the culprits but do not want to go public on it.
He said they are also liaising with their counterparts from neighbouring countries like Burkina Faso to help in the fight against fuel smuggling.