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The Vice President H.E. Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia has launched the Electronics Cargo Tracking System and Command Center at the National Petroleum Authority.
Speaking at the launch he said,
The Petroleum Downstream Sector is a critical component in meeting the energy requirements of the country. An efficient and effective petroleum products distribution system is important and essential to the economic growth of the country. It is for this reason that Government is committed to improving the movement of petroleum products within the country, whether it is by road, rail, water or pipeline.
To this end, Government is taking measures to ensure that the Bulk Oil Storage & Transportation Company Limited (BOST) is well managed and that it has adequate resources and capacity to lead the transformation of the petroleum product distribution system.
Government also welcomes private sector participation and has therefore charged the NPA to collaborate with relevant state agencies to attract the necessary private investment and appropriate technology into the sector.
I need to emphasize that Government is concerned about the network of illegal activities going on in the petroleum downstream industry mostly in the form of bunkering, smuggling of petroleum products and the dumping of products meant for export on the local market.
Those engaged in these illegal practices may not realize that these activities constitute real threat to the national economy in two ways. First, they impact negatively on our maritime security and therefore represent a national security problem. Second, it undermines the nation’s efforts in mobilizing tax revenue from the sale of petroleum products.
It is estimated that these illegal activities cost the country over US$200 million per annum in the form of lost direct petroleum tax revenue, subsidies that do not get to the targeted constituencies, and abuse in transport claims for transportation of petroleum products among others.
To put this in perspective, the revenue loss of about $200 million translates into nearly GHS1.1 billion annually, which is about 55 percent of the money needed every year to finance a full stream of Free SHS according to the 2020 Budget estimates.
The dynamics of illicit activities in the petroleum downstream industry requires a multi-pronged solution to ensure sanity in the industry. I therefore charge the NPA to enhance and sustain the already initiated technological interventions such as the Petroleum Product Marking Scheme, the Bulk Road Vehicle Tracking and Volume Monitoring System, the Enterprise Relational Database Management System (ERDMS) and now the Electronic Sealing and Cargo Tracking System.
I am informed that there are plans to enforce the use of flowmeters with temperature compensation features at all petroleum product depots and the automation of the measuring systems and processes at these depots and subsequent integration with the ERDMS.
I am also informed of plans to deploy Automatic Tank Gauging and Stock Management and Monitoring Systems at retail outlets in the country. These systems will give the regulatory authorities such as the NPA and the GRA, real time view of petroleum product stocks and movements at all retail outlets and depots in the country.
I would like to encourage the NPA to vigorously pursue these plans and also enhance its collaborative activities with the National Security Council and the Ghana Revenue Authority in finding a lasting solution to the illicit activities in the Petroleum Downstream Industry.
Government believes in the use of the appropriate technology to improve product and service delivery to the people of Ghana and hence finds the introduction of the Electronics Sealing and Cargo tracking system for which we are here to commission very appropriate and timely.
Government has also introduced several of such technological initiatives in areas such as the Paperless Port Clearing Services, Mobile Money Interoperability, and NHIS identification renewal and registration for driver licenses, among others, all aimed at cutting down on unapproved fees and charges, curbing bribery and corruption, and ultimately providing better services to the good people of Ghana.
We have witnessed how adoption of new technologies has improved our quality of life, work and leisure. We also have many examples where they helped to improve productivity and allows an industry to remain competitive, provides better job security and creates more employment.
It is therefore a great honour and privilege for me to commission this state-of–the-art Command Centre as part of the tools of the NPA to enhance its capacity in the monitoring of petroleum products distribution in the country.