Apr 03, 2016 News
Former Prime Minister, Samuel Hinds, is insisting that no corruption was involved in the issuance of a
fuel export licence to China Zhonghao Inc, a sister company of Rong-An Inc.
A notice of the licence issuance was published in February in the Official Gazette, causing raised eyebrows. It would be the first of its kind in Guyana.
China Zhonghao Inc is owned by Chinese nationals, Su Zhi Rong and his wife. They have since become Guyanese citizens. They have taken a partner.
In a letter last week published in Kaieteur News, Hinds made it clear that the decision to issue the fuel export licence was taken under the administration of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic. That government lost the May 11, 2015 General Elections allowing for the coalition led by David Granger to take office.
Hinds, in addition to being the Prime Minister, was also charged with the energy portfolio.
He said that it is a matter of regret that the report of issuing fuel export/re-export licences was presented to the public as a preposterous matter engendering much laughter.
“There is no corruption. Guyana already has small incidental exports/re-exports of fuel. All fuel (and other) sales to international carriers –ships and planes – are exports/re-exports,” he said.
Hinds stressed that during the years of the PPP/C administration, the economy was increased many fold and there was a need to improve it a further tenfold if the country wanted to attain the prosperity it wants.
“We can’t look to our traditional economic activities to do much more than to hold their own. We have to look for new activities, thinking out of the box, opening our minds to a thousand possible new ventures with the hope that some tens of them would take root and be fruitful.”
It is against this background, the former PM said, that the then Government “agreed” to issue a fuel
It was to facilitate a proposal by China Zhonghao to attempt to establish refueling and other bunkering services in port or at sea, to Chinese or other fishing fleets, and any other vessels traversing the Caribbean Sea.
GEA officials had confirmed that instructions for the fuel export licence to be issued had come from the Office of the Prime Minister.
Indeed, the amended Petroleum and Petroleum Products Regulations of 2014 allow for applications to be made for an export licence for fuel. However, it seems that the licence for China Zhonghao will be the first, even surprising insiders of the Guyana Energy Agency (GEA) who said that they are not aware of any being granted before.
The regulations indicated that an applicant desirous of exporting petroleum and petroleum products has to apply to the agency and must lodge supporting documents.
These documents are the same as for wholesale or import wholesale licences.
The applicants must provide specifications of the petroleum and petroleum products to be exported and a list of all ports of exit or export for the petroleum and petroleum products to be exported.
In early January, Government disclosed that a multi-million-dollar bulk fuel importation operation on the East Bank of Demerara, was on hold, with the Chinese owners asked to dismantle an unauthorized wharf construction.
The Chinese conducted an operation called “Falls”, located at Coverden. They, reportedly built a larger-than-authorized wharf.
Officials from the Maritime Administration Department (MARAD) reportedly unearthed the unauthorized works during inspections. The matter was reported to the Ministry, and the company ordered to do corrective works. Questioned then, Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson, said that from his understanding, the company came here initially to conduct fishing activities and was intending to use the fuel facilities for the vessels it would have brought here.
The construction had caused raised eyebrows, with at least eight large storage tanks already constructed, and wharf facilities almost in place.
The issue of the export licence would be significant, as GEA is under scrutiny for its management of the country’s fuel importation business.
A forensic audit report on GEA released recently by Government had recommended actions against Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Mahender Sharma, for a number of issues raised.
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