Sierra Leone’s fuel crisis is politically motivated

Josephus Koroma: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 12 June 2019:

It is a sad story that today, National Petroleum (NP) which is, or should be a national petroleum company, is collaborating with other international petroleum companies based in Sierra Leone, to blackmail Government into increasing the pump price of fuel.

Despite the fact that all Sierra Leoneans know NP is managed by die hard APC loyalists, national interest should be paramount rather than party interests.

So as a strategy to distract government’s attention from implementing its flagship program of free quality education, the APC party has now turned to their surrogates to blackmail Government and hold the people of Sierra Leone to ransom.

How can one be so petty to wish evil on the country of your birth just because your party is not in power?

But this is exactly what the APC and their cohorts have been manifesting since President Bio won the elections of March, 2018.

It is now evidently clear that NP is so deceitful in its approach that they are currently using the dubious fuel deal that was in operation between NP General Manager and former Energy Minister – Henry Macauley (Photo), during the days of APC to blackmail Government.

When Alhaji Kanja Sesay took over as Minister of Energy, he inherited fuel debt between NP and the Electricity Distribution & Supply Agency and Electricity Generation & Transmission Company of over Le40.0 billion, plus debt owed to the famous Aggreko, Salcost Salini.

All Sierra Leoneans knew the debt of NP was dubious in more ways than one. When requested to show documentations of their accumulated debt, not a single document was provided by the management of NP. All they could provide was a mere invoice paraded by the General Manager.

In fact, out of good customer relationship the current Minister was able to reduce the debt and make some savings for Government.

Another dishonest business behaviour of NP is the secret relationship between NP, Leonco, ADDAX and a company called Oxgy. With all their claims of being a giant in the industry, NP does not import oil into Sierra Leone despite the huge foreign exchange availed to them occasionally by the Government of Sierra Leone.

Instead, NP and Leonoil buy fuel from another family company Leonco. It is also reported that Leonco actually imports fuel oil from another company called Oxgy. In all the deals, Government and the people of Sierra Leone are the losers.

The present fuel crisis is championed by NP General Manager, Kobi Walker, a proud financier of APC to blackmail Government. From published stories, NP is complaining about ASYCUDA, debt and foreign exchange problems.

Citizens can recall that NRA, in its automation drive to make tax collection fraud free, installed a web based ASYCUDA-World in January 2019. Before then, oil marketing companies import of fuel products were dubiously stated, and as a result, wrong taxes were paid.

According to sources from customs department, NRA rolled out the ASYCUDA World to all oil marketing companies in May. Because the software eliminated the dubious measurement of fuel imports and paying correct taxes and duties, NP is leading their subsidiary, Leoneoil managed by the son of the owner of NP Tunde Cole to blackmail Government.

It is also claimed that the formula used by Petroleum Regulatory Agency (PRA) is not correct. This is false. The current PRA Chief Executive is an expert in the oil industry. Since his appointment late last year, he has discovered a lot of hidden charges that disadvantaged government.

The pump price of fuel is determined by many factors including exchange rate, international fuel prices and freights. The exchange rate since January has depreciated by 4.5%.

But NP is using black market exchange rate of 9,000 Leones per $ dollar to compute its price and call for price increase.

We challenge NP to produce a bank rate of Le9,000. Even black market is not Le9,000.

Besides, Government through the Bank of Sierra Leone has provided over $15.0 million to oil marketing companies, so NP is not saying the truth.

Another discovery the head of PRA has discovered is the freight price. It is discovered that the freight price used by NP and others is $85 per metric ton – a charge that was set in 2015.

Despite all efforts, oil marketing companies have vehemently insisted that freight prices never change despite the fact that Sierra Leone has been removed from the list of fragile states, and all international insurance premiums are expectedly reviewed downwards.

Asked to give evidence of the freight from their suppliers, the companies, according to our sources say their suppliers don’t provide them freight prices.

A leaked document from one of the companies shows that the freight for petrol is less than $60 instead of the exorbitant $85 per metric ton they actually use to defraud Government of meaningful resources.

In fact, the disclosure of the dubious deal is not unrelated to the immediate withdrawal of the Country Manager of Total from Sierra Leone.

Now the General Manager of NP, a Sierra Leonean who is drunk with the politics of SLPP vs APC is doing someone’s bidding by attempting to blackmail government.

9 Comments

  1. I have checked, double checked and counted tirelessly the days our nation has been free from bickering accusations and finger-pointing since the SLPP took over the reins of power, and there is none. Unbelievable! I sincerely hope the writer is fully aware that his allegations of sabotage and overt disruptive practices by the NP and APC against the government and its citizens, are serious and enough grounds to have honorable men arrested, investigated and charged with Treason.

    So what are they waiting for? Seems to me all the hollering and hullabaloo is about nothing significant at all. Contrary to what the delusional SLPP believes, there are a lot of factors responsible for the sudden increases in the prices of fuel.

    Firstly, the price of the dollar. The higher or lower the value of the dollar in relation to one’s currency, so also is the price of fuel at the pumps – plain and simple, except in rare instances where subsidies are intricately involved. Again, people buying more fuel consuming equipment and vehicles – like cars, trucks, motorcycles, etc can cause demand to rise sharply and surpass the regular, normal quotas of supply, thereby creating drastic unexpected and unforseen insufficiencies.

    And then there are the intermittent fluctuations and instability of Crude oil prices worldwide, not to mention reductions in output caused by seasonal changes in countries like Saudi Arabia, Russia, Iraq, Iran and Canada, the five leading exporters of global oil.

    Yep, the freezing winter cold with temperatures at the lowest minuses and scorching heat waves, soaring high in eye-opening plus numbers, coupled with traditional festivities and religious seasons like the Holy Month of Ramadan, Christmas and Hanukkah, can cause a sharp and steady rise in the prices of global Oil.

    My findings have indicated that Sierra Leone is not on the list of the 10 counties with the most expensive fuel prices in the world. Barbados is in 5th place. Imagine that! And we are here complaining and whining over nothing at all.

    Seriously, something’s wrong here. Does the writer really think any sensible individual will believe in the evidence of wrongdoing he’s openly claiming came from a dubious source – a leaked document? Think again, because there are critical minded adults here – not itsy bitsy, little children whom he can deceive, manipulate and influence at will.

    Come on man, in my eyes you have shot yourself in the foot already! Outrageous! And why would someone even think NP would release confidential and private documents to anyone not closely affiliated to them, thereby committing an act that could jeopardize and compromise the financial and ethical security and well being of their company.

    What I am seeing here is a devious and calculated attempt to tarnish the image and reputation of good, hardworking, industrious men. I’m sick and tired of all this trivial games! Here and there, throwing wild unsubstantiated, unsupported accusations of wrongdoing and corruption, like a farmer with hands full of unproductive seeds that are unyielding and good for nothing.

    Power is now in the hands of the SLPP, so quit complaining, and be up and doing for time and tide wait for no man…Rising Sun Will Rise Again.

  2. I don’t know where Mr. Koroma get the exchange rates for the Leones. When I look at the exchange rate in German banks, from euro to Leone I could get 1 euro – 10.580 Leones today?

  3. I am sure APC is doing all they can to bring hardship to the country. Do they really love Sierra Leone or is Sierra Leone a private APC yard where they can change anything according to their wish. APC should and must forget about politics and work for the country and the people.

    Sierra Leone is a small nation where everybody can fit working for their progress. Do they want to control the country in a messy way. I am and we are tired of the mess APC put the country in, where only thieves survived.

    I am happy the ACC is doing its work even though hard at time. All those thieves must refund the stolen money and put behind bars.

    Thank you brothers and sisters for your hard work to clean Sierra Leone. Sierra Leone petrol companies must work for the country and the people, and not for any particular perple or groups.
    GOD BLESS SIERRA LEONE AND HER PEOPLE.

  4. Thank you very much Josephus for giving us information on how the fuel crisis is politically motivated. I hope the ACC is taking note and will investigate. There are corrupt practices within the NP according to your article. To be honest with you, the people of Sierra Leone just want the crisis to end. You have done your part by exposing some malpractice by the NP. The government must act.

    Another ingredient to this crisis I believe is the removal of the FUEL SUBSIDY as one of the IMF conditions. Let’s call a spade a spade. Mind you, this AUSTERITY measure is not only going to affect the fuel sector but all the other sectors were subsidies were removed for IMF/WORLD BANK LOAN. SAD.

    So, what is best at the moment is for the government to work with the oil companies to find a solution as soon as possible to bring this crisis to a rapid conclusion. The government just has to do its job. PERIOD. This is what happens when you choose AUSTERITY in return for IMF LOANS.

    • I really dont get this. So everything that happens in the country is an issue caused by the former APC lead government? The fact that the present goverment is making things more difficult for people by the day is still the fault of the former ruling party too. I seriously dont think this news oulet really reports what is happening within the country.

      We are living here and are not happy with what’s going on. Prices of basic commodities are getting higher everyday; the economy is failing because the present government don’t even know what they are doing. The new direction that was promised may be going backwards.

    • Let me first of all say thanks to the SLPP government and all the stakeholders for bringing this fuel crisis to a speedy conclusion. When I talk about making suggestions and providing solutions to the issues, some think, it’s for talking sake.

      Look at what has just happened. The Bio administration engaged with the petroleum products stakeholders to discuss and solve this very volatile issue. Now, the problem has been solved to the satisfaction of all. ENGAGEMENT and constructive DIALOGUE is the answer to our problems. PUNT UIT!

      This is how a country should work. One thing of course which people don’t realise, is toning down the RHETORIC to calm down the situation in times of crisis. Using inflammatory rhetoric and the blame game in times of crisis does not take us anywhere.

      The Bio administration realises that the government does not import petroleum products. They are not OIL OLIGARCHS. Right. The administration is also fully aware of all the problems involving the supply and demand of oil in the international market.

      Moreover, let’s not forget that we import the finished petroleum products for the time being. Do you know the problem? We sold the oil REFINERY which was a bad idea. Now, it is broken in simple terms. Very soon, Sierra Leone will have nothing. To add fuel to the problem, we are now engaging Chinese Investments, who in my view will ask for all of our resources and infrastructures to manage for hundreds of years if we default on our loan repayments to them. The government must be very careful with CHINESE investments.

      The solution worked out between the Bio administration and the PETROLEUM stakeholders, shows us that our governments are capable of solving the country’s problems. I just don’t know why they tend to be stubborn to do so. Well done President Bio for making sure that your administration took the lead this time in a responsible manner to help your people.

      I hope your administration continues to work like this to help the masses who are always the victims. We will continue to make suggestions and find solutions to our national problems. Whether people like it or not, we will continue because, that is the right thing to do. All I can say for now is, President Bio is capable of making the difference. Is that not COOL?

      Thank you very much Mr. President and may GOD BLESS YOU. By the way, you have my vote for today.

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