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Opinions of Saturday, 5 September 2009

Columnist: The Statesman

NDC cronyism, The Reason for fuel shortages

It is a well-known fact that the Tema Oil Refinery has not imported a single barrel of crude oil into the country this year. As a result of this phenomenon, refinery activities of TOR have virtually ceased and have culminated in fuel shortages across the length and breadth of this country.

As a result of this, the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) issued a tender for the importation of refined petroleum products. The tender is usually for 7 lots of refined petroleum products.

A lot is about 30,000 tonnes of refined petroleum products (i.e. Diesel, Premium etc.)

Three companies namely Chase Petroluem, Cirrus Oil Services (a representative for Vitol SA in Ghana) and Bulk Shipping Ltd have been the companies importing finished petroleum products into this country whilst TOR remained “idle”. These companies have the operational licence and a proven track record for the importation as well as bulk storage of petroleum products which spans several years in this country. However in June of this year, something very strange happened. Chadeco Group Company Limited won the bid to lift finished petroleum products for the month of July into the country. It was allocated 6 out of the 7 lots issued by the NPA. This company was incorporated on the 12th of September 2001 and has no shareholders. The directors of this company are Lilian Blasu and Prince Charles Dela Dedzo (Executive Chairman).

Chadeco has no track record whatsoever in the oil business, and not surprisingly our sources say this company doesn’t know where to get the petroleum. This stock was for July, but till now not a single drop of oil has been delivered to this country.

A new tender was issued to another company called SMOK to import petroleum products into the country. Checks at the Registrar General’s office have revealed that this company is not a limited liability company, there are no details as to who its shareholders are. SMOK’s business registration certificate number (CA 60,803) was the only information available at the Registrar General’s office. SMOK has also not been able to deliver petroleum products into the country.

Another NDC crony company which has gotten into the oil business is Magnum Force. This company was incorporated on the 26th of June 2001 but commenced its operations on the 10th of March 2004. It has Alhaji Mohammed Seidu and Victoria Asamoah as its directors. A similar result to that of Chadeco and Smok is also panning out; it has not been able to deliver petroleum products.

Our checks reveal that some NDC cabinet ministers are behind these companies and in particular SMOK. The stock for the month of July has still not been delivered. A clear case of cronyism is being displayed by the Mills’ led NDC administration to the detriment of this country. Long winding queues resulting from fuel shortages have been have been re-visited on the good people of this country.

The current state of the Tema Oil Refinery could only mean it will be put up for privatisation. The Statesman in its 5th of July edition revealed the conditionalities imposed by the World Bank on Ghana for a $535 loan facility.

One of the conditionalities imposed by the World Bank for the disbursement of the second and final tranche of $150 million loan facility to Ghana was for the rationalisation and commercialisation of half of subvented agencies. An assessment date has been scheduled for the end of September 2009. Government has to ensure that the actions (conditionalities) outlined under the Second tranche are achieved so it can get the second tranche.