Dr. Charles Wereko-Brobby, who once served as policy adviser when the sale of premix fuel for fisher-folk was instituted, has said the whole policy as currently exists must be scrapped.
Whilst the policy introduced in 1990 was intended to help fisher-folk, Mr. Wereko-Brobby said “the intent was badly executed.”
He was speaking on Eyewitness News in response to the Citi News report indicating that over 200 premix fuel consignments loaded from the Tema Oil Refinery were not delivered to the intended destinations.
In all instances, although the product was documented to be bound for outside the Greater Accra Region, they ended up in Tema, according to information obtained by the NPA’s BRV Tracking System.
This has been viewed as extremely scandalous considering that in 2016 for example, $45 million was signed in subsidies to help fisher-folk in Ghana, whose livelihood has been in sharp decline.
There has been a National Premix Committee (NPC) since 2009, to oversee the administration and distribution of premix fuel, a heavily subsidized petroleum product.
In view of all this, Dr. Wereko-Brobby believes the policy, which was originally intended to ensure the timely availability of the products at an affordable price, has to be restructured.
“How much of the $45 million [in 2016] actually went to fishermen? It went to unscrupulous middlemen who sit on committees and misuse the funds of Ghana because they sell it off as fuels for ordinary engines. So let’s go back to square one and do the right thing.”
Solutions for government
Diagnosing the problems with the policy, Mr. Wereko-Brobby said the fact that premix fuel had multiple uses presented its own problems.
“The problem we have is that, each time you have multiple uses for a product, the ones that give more profit is what people will go for. From Day one that premix was introduced, because it has alternative uses in very old engines, people could literally siphon it away and give it to the drivers who use those engines instead of giving it to the fishermen.”
The fishermen currently use a type of engine that requires a mixture of gas oil and the leaded fuel, hence the need for the mixing.
Dr. Wereko-Brobby recalled that, at the time the policy was being formed, he advised that fisher-folk be given coupons to buy the additives themselves to mix but to no avail.
“Fishermen should have been given coupons to buy the additives and mix it rather than creating a situation where you are supposedly making the premix [for them]… so you don’t create a market for alternative uses.”
He also noted that, there are now engines that did not require premix fuel and could run on just the fuel.
“Can you imagine if the government spent the $45 million buying the most up-to-date engine and giving it to the fishermen? That would be a one-time expenditure.”
Pre-mix fuel diversion: We can’t punish perpetrators – Committee
The Chairman of the National Pre-mix Fuel committee, Nii Lantey Bannerman, has said his outfit does not have the power to sanction persons who divert subsidized premix fuel meant for fishermen to other areas to be sold to industries.
According to him, only the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) can sanction or withdraw the licenses of the Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) who perpetuate such acts.
The NPA is yet to comment on the matter.