Over the past couple of days, the Guyana Energy Agency has been been under the spot light for not monitoring the fule industry at optimum.
These allegations were levied by the Head of Guyana Revenue Authority, Godfrey Statia. Statia noted that over 100 import liscenses were issued to fuel dealers in Guyana and this is proving to be a challenge.
The GRA boss noted that in areas such as the Essequibo region, fuel smuggling is rampant because of lack of effective monitoring, the smugglers have perfected the trade and this is proving a challenge.
There has been very little public reports of successes by the GEA in clamping down the illegal fuel trade. However, the GEA in a statement noted that its inspectors have visited several sites where illegal fuel is suspected to be sold and collected samples. “its inspectors visited 12,882 sites and collected 33,891 samples, which resulted in 29 discoveries of illegal fuel and the seizure of over 11,000 gallons of illegal gasoline and diesel.
“The work of the GEA is supported by the Guyana Police Force (GPF), Guyana Defence Force Coast Guard (GDFCG) and Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) Customs,” the agency said in a statement responding to the claims made by the GRA head.
“Apart from Georgetown, GEA continues to operate out of bases on the Essequibo Coast, Bartica and Linden, further, routine and intelligence based operations continue to be done in various areas across the country as needed. For 2017, the GEA recorded 6 convictions. Compensation was accepted from 4 individuals under GEA’s legislation in the sum of $1,23,000,” the statement continued.
The GEA also said that “for 2018, the Inspectors have visited 3,191 sites and collected 8,339 fuel samples in the first quarter of the year.”
The agency is claiming that seven instances of illegal fuel were found with approximately 9000 gallons of gasoline and diesel. With the vast amount of reports of fuel smuggling, the entity noted that there are only two convictions and three matters in the court for 2018 so far.
There are allegations that the GEA has been settling matters outside of the courts with instructions from various government officials.
The GEA Act clearly states in cap 56:05: 5BA. (1) “A person possesses, sells, offer to sell, distributes, transports, purchases or obtains or otherwise deals with illegal petroleum product commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of three million dollars and imprisonment of three years.”
Guyana Daily News spoke to an official with inside knowledge of the GEA’s operations, who said that top officials of the entity have been getting instructions from high government functionaries to not pursue charges against their associates. The individual even suggest that the same might apply of the present case whereby a ship has been seized with over 200,000 gallons of illegal fuel, a senior figure in the Government has been fingered as being involved.
When asked if there was any instances in the past where the GEA has let someone off the hook because of intricate connections in the Government, the individual noted that in 2016, there was a seizure of a fuel truck with illegal fuel on the Essequibo Coast where the amount of illegal fuel was worth some $28 million dollars.
The source further noted that someone from Government made a call and there was no conviction of the owner/s nor were there any fines paid for having illegal fuel, the truck was returned to the owner and nothing came out the matter, due to his connections within the government. This is only one case, the individual noted.
However, the GEA has boasted that it is in conformity with the regulations set out in the ACT and the rigid stance in stamping out illegal fuel smuggling, by enforcing proper monitoring, enforcement and compliance.