Petro Trade CCO Recommends
Amidst reports that the Special Presidential Task Force set up by President George Weah to probe the recent shortage of petroleum product has submitted its report to the President, Abraham Kaydea, Chief Coordinating Officer of Petro Trade Group, has recommended drastic action against those who have abused the much-talk-about provisional lifting method and a total review of the exercise itself.
Provisional lifting is a practice under which the Liberia Petroleum Refinery Company (LPRC) would allow one petroleum importer to take the product of another importer with the understanding that the borrower will replace the product in time enough upon the arrival of his own product, a strategy which was designed with good intent to keep the market open and running but backfired due to either the inability or callous refusal of some seemingly reckless companies to replace petroleum products they took and sold under the provisional lifting program.
Petro Trade is one of the leading importers of the Petroleum products in Liberia.
According Mr. Kaydea, amidst all of the reasons, excuses and/or justifications being given for the acute shortage of gasoline, the major cause of the problem is the gross abuse of the provisional lifting exercise.
Mr. Kaydea maintained that dredging of the Freeport and few other technicalities account for only a small portion of the shortage but the abuse of the provisional lifting by these delinquent companies or individuals who have failed or refused to pay back product given to them is the major cause of the problem.
Kaydea is, therefore, calling for the suspension and revocation of licenses as well as the prosecution of those whose’ willful actions or inactions led to the gasoline shortage which seriously affected the business of others and pushed the nation to the brink of economic collapse and chaos.
The Petro Trade boss called on President Weah to attach seriousness to the matter and personally ensure that the LPRC and other relevant state authorities review and/or cancel the provisional lifting exercise, and that those who have deliberately defaulted be prosecuted for causing huge financial losses to other importers and the government and putting the country on the edge of economic instability.
He disclosed that his (Petro Trade) filling stations were selling 3,000 to 5,000 gallons a day but the shortage caused them to sell 1,000 to 1,500 gallons a day.
The tactical reduction in the daily sale, he said, was a strategy to remain on the market and serve the public while efforts were being exerted to remedy the situation.
“We did that to manage the product and keep serving our people amidst the crisis caused by the shortage”.
Mr. Kaydea further revealed that the abuse of the provisional lifting framework did not start with the current administration (Weah-Government), but began in the previous regime up to about 68%, and continues in the current regime.
The Petro Trade chief has, however, advised the government against the idea of instituting a petroleum product reserve, saying, “the idea is not necessary for now.”
He gave no details about his advice to the government but promised to do so appropriately through the relevant government entities and functionaries.
Petroleum shortage has been a serious hazard in Liberia’s economic system for the past few weeks. Vehicles and businesspeople have been finding it difficult to get gasoline, and the causes have been traced to different factors opinionated by individuals. For instance, the Managing Director of the Liberia Petroleum Refining Company, Marie Coleman-Urey, attributed the shortage to APM Terminal alleged failure to dredge the Freeport; statement that the APM Terminal denied and described it as lies and unfounded.
In another instance, Liberian businessman Musa Bility who did not name any individuals or groups, recently stated that “two petroleum importers” were responsible for the shortage of gasoline on the market.
“I am here because I thought that it has become necessary for me to make some clarifications surrounding the gas shortage in the country. APM Terminals is right about their position in which they said that no vessel was rescheduled to berth as claimed by the government through the National Port Authority (NPA). Two importers, who were responsible to import petroleum products in December, are responsible for this crisis,” Bility said.
He added, “The two importers expected to have supplied the country, failed to do so. And the reason why only two importers are allowed to bring in petroleum products in a month is because there is not enough space at the LPRC to store the products.”
In pursuit of seeking the causes of this situation, the House of Representatives’ specialized committee set to investigate the matter has been given the mandate through majority votes to investigate and come out with names of those who are indebted to other petroleum importers in the amount between US$9 million to US$12 million.
If named, it is expected that the government of Liberia will take some stringent actions against the “Wrongdoers” for their actions that have caused hardship for people in the country over the past few weeks.