The Chamber of Petroleum Consumers (COPEC), is warning of immnent fuel shortages on the market if immediate measures are not taken to ensure a speedy resolution of challenges encountered at the country’s sea ports to allow for the smooth discharge of petroleum products onto the market.
The chamber maintained that the ongoing challenges in respect of revenue settlement following from a decision to migrate onto a new platform (UNIPASS) from the current GCNet platform, is creating a lot of avoidable bottlenecks for petroleum lifting across depots in the country.
For instance, the Executive Secretary of the chamber, Mr Duncan Amoah, in a social media message to the Daily Graphic said; “Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) and the Liquefied Petroleum Gas Marketing Companies (LPGMCs) that had orders for supply of fuel to various outlets could not load a single litre of fuel all day on Wednesday, April 29, due to discrepancies in the migration onto the new customs system ( UNIPASS ) at the depots”.
He said a communique issued earlier last Wednesday from the National Petroleum Authority (NPA), indicating a swift response to resolve the issue to enable the lifting of the products to happen, seemed not to have yielded any results.
As a result, most OMCs and the LPGMCs had to make alternative arrangements to accommodate their drivers who had been dispatched to load products from the depots across the country.
Fuel shortage warning
Mr Amoah warned that the situation, if left unresolved within the next 24 hours, could, and would certainly lead to serious fuel shortages across the country.
“One would expect that the new system would have been rolled out gradually side by side with the old system in order to help in facilitating a gradual phasing out of the existing system ( GCNet ) but the seeming haste in abandoning the old system while the new system ( UNIPASS) is not fully ready and integrated is clearly leading to discrepancies being witnessed and we wish for a speedy resolution to forestall any possible shortages across the country,” he said.
Mr Amoah also hinted that “Our attention has further been drawn to the cutting of staff numbers by some of our oil companies due to the adverse effects of coronavirus on volumes and revenues.
In light of the above, we call on the government to ensure that various oil and gas companies are not left out in the announced small and medium enterprises (SME) support.
According to him, many were reeling heavily under the harsh effects of the three weeks lockdown and subsequent low volumes and revenues adding that if care was not taken, it would result in increased job losses and redundancy within the country.
License renewal fees
On the issue of license renewal fees, Mr Amoah prevailed on the NPA to also work out a mechanism to ease down on what he described as the “heavy license renewal fees charged to these companies to enable them to adjust to the vagaries of COVID-19 outbreak on their businesses.”
The move, he said, would compel the OMCs and LPGMC to keep fuel prices low for Ghanaians and not be tempted to increase or collect their full margins which could only lead to increases in pump prices.
Mr Amoah also reiterated an earlier call on the Ghana Revenue Authority to give a six-month moratorium to oil companies instead of the current one spanning up to the end of July for them to file their returns later than the current 45 days.
This is because sales volumes across the board has reduced significantly and any attempt to enforce the earlier 21 or 45-day collections could only mean “going to the banks to borrow, a situation which will eventually place undue pressure on them to engage in all manner of games to survive.”