Apr 03, 2013 News Comments Off on GEA highlights fuel smuggling reduction amidst corruption allegations
By Zena Henry
Amidst numerous allegations made against Guyana Energy Agency (GEA) officials by its staffers, administrators of that entity have rebuffed and dismissed allegations that a fuel smuggling cover-up is fracturing the agency and its system.
GEA head Mahender Sharma said, via press release, that fuel smuggling has to date decreased, presumably by the measures being put in place by the agency.
He highlighted that for 2012, GEA recorded fuel smuggling cases at, “Fifteen convictions from 10 completed prosecutions.” Sharma argued that from 2008 to date, new fuel smuggling cases have decreased, with three in 2008, seven in 2009, 27 in 2010, 13 in 2011 and four in 2012.
On marked fuel, Sharma said that last year 1,648 sites were sampled at least once from a total of 8,323 site visits. One percent of the 1,648 sites were found with significant dilution.
“From 2006 to 2012, the percentage of sites found with significant dilution in at least one tank has progressively decreased from 34% in 2006 to one percent in 2011. Significant levels of adulteration were also detected in only one percent of the samples analysed, while there was a significant decrease in the volume of illegal fuel seized,” he noted.
An additional metric to evaluate the performance of the Fuel Marking programme, Sharma defended is, “A measure of gasoline, diesel and kerosene consumption (excluding large duty-free consumers). Consumption of gasoline for the year 2012 increased by 11.09% compared to 2011 and consumption of gasoil by the oil companies Guyoil, Rubis and SOL, only (excluding the large duty-free consumers) increased by 13.35%. For the oil companies, 3,404,107 barrels of petroleum-based products were sold in 2012 with an average of 9,301 barrels per day. This represents a 12.97% increase when compared to 2011.”
In light of this, Sharma opined that the increase in gasoil consumption correlates with the overall sustained growth of the economy, while decreased availability of smuggled fuel, is presumably due to the monitoring and enforcement activities of the Fuel Marking Programme.
Sharma said when staffers were asked about the agency’s living conditions, they noted that, “The allegation of living conditions is laughable, and it begs the question of when such photographs were taken, considering the repairs completed at the pictured base. During the spate of fires in Linden, the base was destroyed, but this is now currently under construction.”
Additionally, “A forum was held for all Analytical Inspectors, which allowed them the podium to make presentations on ‘Ways to tackle Fuel Smuggling’ and an open environment to voice any concerns to management and each other,” Sharma said.
For an Analytical Inspector to become employed at the GEA, Sharma informed that an interview process exists, inviting applicants to ask questions, and management is brutally honest in the harsh realities of the field of work.
“Cognizant that dangers may be inherent and involves the commitment of such persons employed, it has always been management’s policy that inspectors understand the nature and type of work, with the hours of service and allowances attached.”
Sharma further related that, “GEA officials are confused at the tirade of accusations made against the Agency noting that previous press releases and reports indicate the successes of the Fuel Marking Programme. Vehemently denying any orders for the ‘covering up’ of fuel smugglers or avoiding the inspection of any areas. The attempted character assassinations of those officials involved in the fuel marking programme still have no bearing on the fact that inspectors may have failed polygraph tests. The failure of polygraph tests signals a loss of confidence in said employee, and termination is not an easy decision; rather the stages to this outcome are lengthy and structured, as it is not the quality of work that is doubted by the inspectors, but their integrity in achieving the same goal.”
The release concluded that “It is quite coincidental that hot on the heels of the termination of two employees, articles have surfaced regarding the integrity of officials. Members of staff have expressed their disappointment and disgust at the purported falsities and character assassinations of such officials and the continued publication of such articles without regard for unbiased journalism”.
The information from the GEA however failed to challenge workers’ conflict of interest view about senior agency officials reportedly having businesses requiring the use of fuel and affiliation with persons also having businesses requiring fuel.
The release failed to state why certain staffers were exempted from polygraph tests even though their section was pegged to be tested. While the release purports character assignation of fuel marking staffers, GEA sources charged that top brass officials are the ones hurting the agency via corrupt practices.
Also, no mention was made about tactics in apprehending smugglers since staffers had charged poor or inadequate machinery and improper management of evidence samples.
In addressing living conditions at the agency’s out-of-town base, it was admitted that the Linden base was under construction following last July’s events, but workers spoke of uninhabitable conditions at the Essequibo base, and that was not addressed.
Sharma also failed to address staff accusations that no investigations have been done or arrests made when staffers are threatened or attacked, especially when affiliates of the ruling party are involved.
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