The Junior Staff and Senior Staff unions of the Bulk Oil Storage and Transportation Company Limited (BOST) have been expressing great worry about how government is not supporting their company to stabilise petroleum prices in the country. The executives of the two unions reiterated that it is ONLY BOST that has the adequate infrastructure and human resource capacity to bring the petroleum prices down, so the government should pay attention to them and ignore the selfish and greedy people who have formed a great cartel that has dominated the industry. Prior to the Easter break, executives of the two unions, Mr Abdul Jamil, Mr Ekow Sey, Mr Mampaya, and Mr Newton Godfred Amoh, spoke on several radio stations, mainly in Accra and Kumasi, where they CAUTIONED GOVERNMENT* against a great cartel in the petroleum industry, whose aim is to protect their selfish interest of making abnormal profit at the expense of the ordinary Ghanaians.
They further stated that the great cartel has been in the system for long and can only be suppressed when the President, the Vice President, Chief of Staff and Energy Minister understand the important role BOST can play to bring petroleum prices down in the interest of the economy and the ordinary consumers of petroleum products.
It should be noted that although a large number of the population does not have cars to fill directly from the pump, however, they indirectly pay for the high petroleum prices when onboard a taxi or trotro. Therefore, the government cannot leave such a sensitive national issue wholly in the hands of a few private men who have formed a cartel to deceive the state.
They pleaded with the whole country to disregard their political differences and support BOST to fight this cartel, because they are the cause of the high petroleum prices. High petroleum prices affect everyone, be it the New Patriotic Party (NPP), National Democratic Congress (NDC), Convention People’s Party (CPP) etc., so every Ghanaian must support BOST to bring it down to ease the pressure. Government should know that in the deregulatory petroleum regime like ours without any giant governmental agency playing a role, even if the government removes all taxes, the private sector which now controls the industry, will replace it with profit in a smart way, leaving the ordinary consumers in their vulnerable states. Hence reducing taxes is not the ultimate option. On the part of Mr Mampaya, Chairman of the Junior Staff Union, he categorically stated that in most cases, those in the right positions to deal with the problems are given wrong advice. He cautioned that “if the government jokes with our advice, this great cartel, whose members have made themselves kingmakers, can worry the government in 2020 elections, because the ground is being prepared for that.” He advised that if the government wants to dine with the cartel, it must be done fully, by giving them all their needs, otherwise, they should ignore them completely. What is happening now is that BOST is crippled, so the petroleum market in the country has been taken over by the great cartel. On the contrary, the government is preventing the same cartel from their illegal activities such as fuel dumping, diversion of premix fuel, diversion of marine fuel, adulteration of fuel etc. For this reason, they are not happy, and will, therefore, mislead the government by increasing fuel prices anyhow, with the excuse that international fuel prices have gone up.
They were enjoying all the illegal activities previously, and will only be happy when that opportunity is available to them. To avoid this agenda of the great cartel, it is advisable to empower the 100% government-owned BOST to compete with them, so that their plans will be curtailed. Mr Newton Godfred Amoh, Secretary to the Local Union, also said most of the members of the great cartel are highly rich and can easily influence government officials to act unreasonably. He said, apart from Ghana, there is nothing called BDCs anywhere in the world, but here the BDCs are controlling the affairs, to the extent that, in 2014, they held the entire nation to ransom. He further stated that when the great cartel realised that BOST was planning to redeem Ghanaians from the burden of high petroleum prices, they quickly attacked the Managing Director with baseless, malicious, illogical and childish accusations to halt the intended plans.
He added that the great cartel has a lot of incredible civil society groups as its members, and they always hide behind such groups and sponsor them to throw dust into the eyes of Ghanaians. During his turn, Mr Ekoy Sey, Secretary of the Senior Staff Union, expressed dissatisfaction about the Bank of Ghana and Ministry of Finance’s refusal to waive the single obligor limit on GCB to offer a US$120 million line of credit to BOST for petroleum product importation. He said the laws are made to make life easy for Ghanaians, but not the opposite.
He pointed out that today, fuel price at the pump is about *GH¢4.51 per litre* on the average, leading to *GH¢20.30 per gallon*, but if this waiver is granted, BOST can bring the price down to about *GH¢4 per litre and GHS 18 per gallon*, which will be affordable to all, and, most importantly, BOST will be able to maintain the same price for a very long time, through the trading arrangement existing between BOST, GO Energy and Goil. He concluded that if the situation is not arrested, the price will go up again in the next window, thereby rendering the tax reduction granted useless. Mr Abdul Jamil, Chairman of the Senior Staff Union, reiterated that President Akufo-Addo should continue to repose confidence in the Managing Director of BOST, Mr Alfred Obeng Boateng, because the man is hard-working, innovative, competent, and, above all, the most incorruptible Managing Director the company has had in recent years. “This is the man who has blocked most of the loopholes in the company and has attracted enemies to himself but has vowed to standby his plans to turn the company round, in order to leave a mark, irrespective of the sabotage and the frustrations”.
What amazes the staff is that he has brought unity to the company, assigns everybody contrary to the previous administration where some people were on the old salary scale, whilst others enjoyed the new salary scale. A few people who are agents of the great cartel will soon be exposed, and hope that the MD will sanction them accordingly. As we speak, two staff, suspected to leak fake information to outsiders, have been interdicted and a five-member committee set up to investigate them and submit their report within two weeks.
If found culpable, “I have no doubt of management sacking them summarily. We cannot sit down for a few people to destroy BOST, which is strategically positioned to serve the nation, just because of their selfish interests, which is always placed above the national interest,” Mr Abdul Jamil stated. He enumerated some of the policies that the new Managing Director has brought to BOST, which are causing all the hatred and dislike by the members of the great cartel. The excellent decisions to safeguard the company is the cause of the frequent attacks on him, since he assumed office in January 2017. 1. In the past the members of the great cartel could divert about 10 trucks each of 50,000 litres of fuel and sold into their pockets, leaving BOST in debt. Today, such practices are things of the past, because of the measures put in place by Mr Obeng. Thus, he has reshuffled the loading terminal (APD) transmission team and many other things. 2. Another disturbing canker that had been eliminated, which is also causing anger among the members of the great cartel, is the policy that contaminated products can no longer be sold to BOST staff, and any employee involved in causing it would face a criminal trial. The result is that since the assumption of office by Mr Obeng, the fuel contamination that was very rampant in the past has ceased. No contamination has happened since 25th January 2017 to date. 3. In the past, products were sent to Burkina Faso, Mali, Liberia and, sometimes, Nigeria, without any financial instruments to secure it. Till date, there is a huge debt in our books against those foreign companies which cannot be traced. Perhaps, it was one of the means that the members of the great cartel were siphoning BOST money. The present Managing Director said we cannot continue to injure our own national company so bad like that, henceforth, any export must be on cash and carry transaction basis. 4. It may interest you to know that some BDCs were given products without invoices, meaning they were getting the products free of charge at the expense of BOST, and some of them still feel bitter when the new management put measures to eliminate such fraudulent practices in the company. 5. BDCs were storing their products in BOST system, and some were either not paying the storage fees at all, or paying for only one month, irrespective of the number of months that the products were kept in the system. The incorruptible, competent current Managing Director’s bold decision to ensure that every BDC pays for Storage and Rack fees fully, and for storage fees on a monthly basis has also offended the members of the great cartel. Conclusion The loopholes that theMr Obeng-led administration has blocked are many, and, therefore, he and his team deserve commendation and support from the media and the general public, to be able to withstand the unnecessary attacks directed at them periodically .