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Business News of Thursday, 30 April 2020


GCNET-UNIPASS impasse could trigger fuel shortage in 24hrs – COPEC warns

File photo: Fuel pump File photo: Fuel pump

The Chamber of Petroleum Consumers Ghana (COPEC) has warned of an impending fuel shortage in the country if the GCNet/UNI-PASS impasse remains unresolved for the next 24 hours.

COPEC, in a statement, also said the ongoing struggle at the ports is leading to problems with petroleum liftings across depots in the country.

The group’s Executive Secretary, Mr Duncan Amoah, said Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) and the Liquefied Petroleum Gas Marketing Companies (LPGMCs) that had orders for supply of fuel to various outlets, could not load a single litre of fuel all day on Wednesday, 29 April 2020 due to the unsuccessful migration of clients onto the new customs system (UNIPASS) at the depots.

“A communiqué issued earlier yesterday from the NPA indicating a swift response to resolving the issue to enable the liftings seemed not to have yielded [any results], as most Oil Marketing Companies and the LPGMCs had to make alternative arrangements to accommodate their drivers who had been dispatched to load products from the depots across the country”, it explained.

COPEC added: “One would expect that the new system would have been rolled out gradually alongside the old system in order to help in facilitating a gradual phasing out of the existing system (GCNet) but the seeming haste in abandoning the old system while the new system (UNIPASS) is not fully ready and integrated, is clearly leading to discrepancies being witnessed and we wish for a speedy resolution to forestall any possible shortage across the country.”

Also, COPEC is reiterating its call on the Ghana Revenue Authority to give OMCs a six-month moratorium in filing their returns instead of the current one spanning up to end of July 2020.

It explained that sales volumes across the board have reduced significantly and any attempt to enforce the earlier 21- or 45-day collections could only mean going to the banks to borrow, which, eventually, places undue pressures on them to engage in all manner of games to survive.

“Our attention has further been drawn to the cutting of staff numbers by some of our oil companies due to the adverse effects of coronavirus on volumes and revenues though a lot of others have refused to lay off”, it noted.

“We call on the state to ensure the various oil and gas companies are not left out in the announced SME support as a lot are reeling heavily under the harsh effects of our 3-week lockdown and subsequent low volumes and revenues which can increase job losses and redundancy within the country.”

COPEC further called on the regulator of the downstream sector (NPA) to also work out a mechanism to ease the heavy licence renewal fee charged these companies to enable them to adjust to the vagaries of the coronavirus outbreak on their businesses.

This is to ensure that they keep fuel prices low for Ghanaians without the tendency to increase or collect their full margins, which can only lead to increases in pump prices.