Fuel smuggling ‘alive and well’ – GRA boss

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Fuel smuggling is “alive and well,” the country’s tax chief said Tuesday, but the Guyana Energy Agency (GEA) has said it is engaged in a rigid exercise to stamp out the illicit trade in fuel.

The comments of Mr Godfrey Statia, Commissioner General of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), followed the seizure of a vessel found to have contained 200,000 gallons of undeclared fuel; if it was allowed to pass it would have robbed the GRA of $36 million in taxes.

“We have boarded the vessel until such time as the taxes have been paid. What happened is that we recognized that the fuel was not declared and if it was not declared well then that is our remit so we boarded,” Statia said at a press conference at the GRA’s headquarters in Georgetown.

Statia suggested a “hiccup” led to GRA officers trying to enter records after the fact.

The Commissioner General suggested that the captain of the vessel, MT Jubilee, could also be fined $20 million.

The GRA is now checking records of the Maritime Administration to determine the frequency with which the vessel has been coming into the ports and information is also being sought from the Demerara Harbour Bridge to determine the frequency with which the vessel was passing there.

“Fuel smuggling is alive and well and we’ve been trying to thwart that,” Statia stated, but said success depends of resources.

The Guyana Energy Agency (GEA) in a statement Wednesday said that it is empowered by law to “monitoring the performance of the energy sector in Guyana, including the production, importation, distribution and utilisation of petroleum and petroleum products.”

The GEA provides licences for import, distribution, wholesale and retail of fuel including diesel, gasoline, kerosene, aviation fuel, lubricants and LPG.

At the end of last year, The GEA issued:

  • 13 Import and Importing Wholesale Licences for importation of “fuels” i.e. diesel, gasoline, kerosene, and aviation fuel
  • 22 Import and Importing Wholesale Licences issued for the importation of either lubricants and/or LPG only.
  • 1 Export Licence
  • 14 Wholesale Licences
  • 113 Retail Licences: Petrol Filling Stations
  • 464 Retail Licences: Others: LPG, Kerosene, Lubricants etc.
  • 230 Consumer Installation Licences
  • 630 Bulk Transportation Carrier Licences

The GEA said it publishes annually in the Gazette a list of all licences issued in accordance with the Petroleum and Petroleum Products Regulations.

In 2017, the Agency said 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 GEA said 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.

According to the Agency, the percentage of sites found with significant dilution in at least 1 tank continues to be no more than 3% since 2010 with 2% being recorded in 2017. For last year, six convictions were recorded and compensation was accepted from four individuals under GEA’s legislation in the sum of $1,237,000.

For 2018, the Inspectors have visited 3,191 sites and collected 8,339 fuel samples in the first quarter of the year.

This represents an achievement of 22% and 24% respectively for its annual target. Additionally, seven discoveries of illegal fuel were recorded and over 9,000 gallons of gasoline and diesel seized during this period.  There were two convictions so far and three matters are ongoing.

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