By Francis Ameyibor, GNA
Accra, April 21, GNA – The Association of Oil Marketing Companies (AOMCs) is to launch an operation to combat Petroleum Black Market dealers to save the country from continuous loss of tax revenue needed for infrastructural development.
The AOMCs combat against Petroleum Black Market dealers also aims at protecting indigenous Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs), whose volume of fuel sales has taken a nose dive, Mr Kwaku Agyemang-Duah, AOMCs Industry Coordinator, told the Ghana News Agency in an interview in Accra.
He said the AOMCs combat against Petroleum Black Market dealers would involve multi-stakeholder operations to make illegal petroleum activities a high-risk adventure in the country.
Mr Agyemang-Duah said the operation would also unmasked all those personalities including politicians, security operators, few OMCs, and any other entity that are supporting and benefiting from the illegal trade at the expense of the state and genuine OMCs.
“For strategic security reasons, the date for the operation would not be announced, as we speak now, operatives are on the ground especially in the Northern, Upper East, Upper West, Brong Ahafo and Ashanti Regions gathering data on these unscrupulous nation wreckers.
“We caution all security personnel who have been compromised by these Petroleum Black Market dealers to watch-out as very, very soon they would be exposed to face the full power of the laws.
“...it’s very ironic that security operatives paid from the tax-money generated, to protect the nation, would stoop so low to collaborate with fraudsters to cheat the nation,” Mr Agyemang-Duah noted.
He said some security operators were providing arms protection for those Petroleum Black Market dealers to move their products through the bush as well as conduct illegal business across the country.
He said scores of indigenous OMCs planned to lay-off workers by the end of the second quarter of this year if the activities of the Petroleum Black Market dealers continued.
The AOMCs Industry Coordinator explained that; “it is the patriotic duty of every Ghanaian to expose corruption, illegal activities and other economic saboteurs...we cannot build this country when scores of people continue to siphon huge sums of money from the state as well as evade payment of taxes”.
Investigations into the operations of the Petroleum Black Market dealers revealed that, they have recruited men who are supplied volumes of fuel products under the cover of darkness in ‘gallons’ to sell cheaply in the market.
Some have also constructed underground tanks at strategic locations which serve as ‘black market depots’.
Scores of OMCs told the GNA of their intentions to join the illegal trade if the situation persisted; “we are losing millions of cedis, we cannot sall our products, which are locked up in the underground tanks yet we pay taxes.
“We are confronted with huge operational cost; the banks are also chasing us for payment of loans contracted. If you cannot beat them join them, we are contemplating on all these options,” an operator told GNA.
The OMCs therefore pledged their full support to the Association and Government to combat the Petroleum Black Market dealers.
The AOMCs, the National Petroleum Authority, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Energy, National Security and other stakeholders are discussing the issues to map-out holistic strategy to support the combat against Petroleum Black Market dealers.