Publish all exemptions under ESLA – Senyo Hosi to ESLA Plc

The Chamber of Bulk Oil Distributors (CBOD) is demanding that the government makes public, all exemptions granted under the ESLA receipts for 2016 and 2017.

The Chamber argues that the extent of such exemptions may serve as an avenue for tax evasion hence Ghanaians must be given the fine details of the transactions.

The request comes on the back of comments from ESLA Plc contesting some figures quoted by the CBOD as unrecorded receipts under the account.

A 2017 industry report by the CBOD suggested that at least 915 million dollars of ESLA receipts were unreported between 2016 and 2017.

The situation, the Bulk Oil Distributors believe is inimical to the fortunes of the oil industry.

A statement in response to ESLA Plc’s claims said,

“We request that all exemptions granted be made public. To suggest that over GHS915mn (2016 and 2017) of unreported E.S.L.A. receipts are due to exemptions is serious and must be a subject of public interest. GHS915.79mn is equivalent to 14.2% of the total E.S.L.A. receipts collected between 2016 and 2017.”

It added, “Such magnitude of exemptions also provides an avenue for tax evasion and the perpetuation of the illegal trade under the guise of industry exemptions.”

On specific issues, the CBOD disagreed with the managers of ESLA Plc to determine the accuracy of the ESLA reports submitted to Parliament by the Minister of Finance.

“Since E.S.L.A. Plc. was formed on the 14th of September 2017, its interest and assessments of the E.S.L.A. receipts cover the period September 2017 to date. It should also be noted that not all ESLA receipts are assigned to E.S.L.A. Plc. Therefore, it has no capacity to independently assess and validate the accuracy of the E.S.L.A. reports submitted to Parliament by the Minister of Finance for the period of January to December 2017.”

Below are other highlights of the statement released and signed by the CEO of CBOD

The formation of E.S.L.A. Plc. and the issuance of the energy bonds are a function of recommendations made by the CBOD and the Ghana Association of Bankers as far back as October 2015. We envisaged that for E.S.L.A. Plc. to be viable as an SPV, it ought to operate independent of political interference. We humbly urge E.S.L.A. Plc. to maintain the integrity of the energy bond programme by focusing on its mandate. Our concern stems from point 5, that E.S.L.A. Plc. is beginning to tamper with its integrity. We urge its administrators to be cautious.
E.S.L.A. Plc. is neither the collector/reporter of E.S.L.A. receipts nor the mouth piece for government agencies from 2016 to date. We do not find it in E.S.L.A. Plc.’s place to speak to revenue leakages in respect of smuggling, export dumping and transfer pricing.

As a responsible entity, CBOD has raised issues of concern and recommended an independent public enquiry as well as a forensic audit of the E.S.L.A. receipts for 2016 and 2017 to ensure that Ghana has not been short-changed by petroleum service providers and/orcorrupt officials in the various government agencies.Such an audit will reconcile volumes procured by BDCs, movements from depots, OMC liftings, GRA reports as well as exemptions. In respect of exemptions, the forensic audit will be expected to ascertain whether the volumes were really used for their purpose.
For example, if a power producer claims exemption on 1million litres, the audit will have to ascertain if the power produced for the period aligns with the reported consumption of 1million litres. It is imperative to ascertain whetherthe exemptions have not found their way back into the regular trade. We will be most pleased if it is proven beyond reasonable doubt that there are no such breaches.

As an industry body we endeavour to report on industry in a very objective manner supported by deep policy analysis for the growth of industry and the good of Mother Ghana. It is in no way our aim to jeopardise confidence in the energy bonds. We rather wish to awaken responsibility on the part of all to further deepen confidence. It should be noted that our membership are also holders of the E.S.L.A. Plc.bonds which we consider our ‘brain child’ and will do our utmost to ensure it succeeds.