THE Guyana Energy Agency (GEA) must be commended for its quick-fire review, within 24 hours, on whether fuel smuggling still poses a threat to legitimate dealers.
The GEA has concluded that fuel smuggling continues to be a threat. Now, if they would have stopped short at that statement, I would have said, “After all, they are the agency in charge of this thing, hence maybe they have more facts than me.”
They, however, proceeded to give statistics about fuel smuggling that has now left me unconvinced. GEA’s fact that fuel smuggling is alive and kicking is the alleged report of two captains of vessels purchasing diesel from Venezuela.
Maritime laws allow vessels to purchase fuel at ports where they trade, but the real question is, “At what price was it acquired?”
Given the shortage of all fuels in Venezuela, including diesel, and the aggravation in obtaining supplies, I am sure that those two captains only bought supplies for them to reach Guyana, where our ‘Bunker C’ fuel is cheaper. GEA goes on to state that the cost of marking fuel is minuscule, at G$ 0.60 per liter.
Now, that is looking at the picture in cents. Let us look at the holistic picture in dollars. The three oil majors (GuyOil, Sol, Rubis) import approximately 60 million liters of all fuel per month.
GEA’s charge for marking that monthly volume is close to $36 million. The oil majors can better utilise this money to improve the salary and safety of their workers, rather than spending it on a threat that might be non-existent. GEA states that marking the fuel allows for tax collection. This is purely a function of the Guyana Revenue Authority, and, as a matter of fact, the oil majors have to pay their taxes, even before the fuel is delivered to their terminals, through a system of Pre-Delivery Inspection done by the customs authority. The 50 GEA employees used for the marking of the fuels at the oil majors are really guarding against a dried up smuggling synonymous like the guard in the House of Commons. They can be better utilised in the wider mandate of the GEA. I am still to be convinced that fuel smuggling is a national threat; it seems that the only one smiling going to the bank is the foreign supplier of the Biometric Marker.