GEA’s reasons are not convincing that fuel smuggling is still a national threat

Dear Editor,
The Guyana Energy Agency (GEA) must be commended for its quick-fire review within twenty-four hours on whether fuel smuggling still poses a threat to legitimate dealers. GEA has concluded that fuel smuggling continues to be a threat.
Now, if they had stopped short at that statement, I would have said, “After all, they are the agency in charge of this thing, hence maybe they have more facts than I do”. They, however, proceeded to give statistics about fuel smuggling that have now left me unconvinced.
GEA’s fact that fuel smuggling is alive and kicking is the alleged report of two captains of vessels purchasing diesel from Venezuela. Maritime laws allow vessels to purchase fuel at ports where they trade. The real question is “At what price was it acquired?”. Given the shortages of all fuels in Venezuela, including diesel, and the aggravation in obtaining supplies, I am sure those two captains only bought supplies for them to reach Guyana, where our bunker fuel is cheaper.
GEA goes on to state that the cost of marking fuel is minuscule at $0.60 per litre. Now, that is looking at the picture in cents. Let us look at the holistic picture in dollars. The three oil majors (Guyoil, Sol, Rubis) imports approximately 60 million litres of all fuel per month. The GEA charge for marking that monthly volume is close to 36 million dollars. The oil majors can better utilise this money to improve the salary and safety of their workers, rather than spending it on a threat that might be nonexistent.
GEA states that marking the fuel allows for tax collection. This is purely a function of the Guyana Revenue Authority, and as a matter of fact, the oil majors have to pay their taxes even before their fuel is delivered to their terminals through a system of Pre-Delivery Inspection done by the Customs Authority.
The 50 employees of GEA used for the marking of the fuels at the oil majors are really guarding against a dried-up smuggling synonymous with the guard in the House of Commons. They can be better utilised in the wider mandate of GEA.
I am still to be convinced that fuel smuggling is a national threat. It seems that the only one smiling going to the bank is the foreign supplier of the biometric marker.

Reggie Bhagwandin