A total of 28 Bulk Road Vehicles (BRVs), six canoes, four mobile pumps and five outboard motors carrying 709,250 litres of illegally smuggled petroleum products with taxes and levies value of GHc1,150,186 have been confiscated.
Additionally, 15 BRVs carrying 790,000 litres of export petroleum products with total tax and levies value of GHc1,307,722.60 were confiscated for attempting to dump the products into retail outlets in the country.
They were busted by a joint taskforce from the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) and security agencies last year.
The Energy Minister, John Peter Amewu, made this known when he took his turn at the Meet-the-Press series in Accra on Tuesday.
The Chief Executive Officer of the National Petroleum Authority (NPA), Alhassan Tampuli, under whose watch the arrest was made, said the canoes were carefully lined with non-permeable materials to prevent the fuel from leaking.
He said each canoe carried about 120,000 litres of petroleum products while BRVs waited for them at strategic locations to cart them away to neighbouring countries.
He said the culprits sometimes changed their vehicles’ number plates to facilitate easy movement across the country’s borders.
Mr. Tampuli said the confiscated canoes would be burnt to serve as a warning signal to all those involved in illegal activities to put a stop to it.
He said the NPA was collaborating with the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority to ensure the culprits paid the required taxes and levies to the state.
The Energy Minister assured of government’s resolve to fight illegal smuggling of petroleum products with full force, noting that the Ministry was working closely with other key stakeholders in the petroleum industry to develop guidelines to monitor and regulate oil tanker activities at sea to check smuggling and bunkering.
He said it would introduce and implement new export guidelines including the provision of a performance bond by the exporter and set up an Export Task Force to be stationed at key check points along the designated export route to check smuggling.
Consequently, the NPA regulations would be amended to grant it prosecutorial and sanctioning powers as well as imposed heavy sanctions and fines on offenders, including withdrawal of their licences and publication of their names in the national dailies to serve as a deterrent to others.
“We shall also integrate the GRA’s GCNet system into the NPA’s Enterprise Relational Database Management System to provide one harmonised platform for tax monitoring purposes,” Mr Amewu said.
“Ongoing discussions with depot owners for the installation of Software backed Automated Tank Gauging System (ATGs) and flow meters at all depots nationwide.”
More so, the Minister stated that there were future plans to install automated tank gauging systems in the underground storage tanks at the retail outlets of oil marketing companies to aid in monitoring sales and stocks of products.