Liberia: “Prosecute Delinquent Provisional Lifters” – Petro Trade Chief Recommends
MONROVIA – As the acute shortage of petroleum product (gasoline) which struck the already economically ailing nation (Liberia) is being alleviated gradually by the arrival of huge consignment of gasoline in the country, the Chief Coordinating Officer of Petro Trade Group, one of the leading players in the Petroleum industry, is calling for drastic action against those who have abused the much-talk-about provisional lifting method, and a total review of the exercise itself.
Speaking to reporters Tuesday at the Capitol Building shortly after a meeting of legislators and some key petroleum importers, Petro Trade’s chief, Abraham Kaydea said amidst all of the reasons, excuses and/or justifications being given for the excruciating shortage of gasoline, the major cause of the problem is the gross abuse of the provisional lifting exercise.
Provisional lifting is a practice under which the, Liberia Petroleum Refinery Company (LPRC) would allow one petroleum importer to take the product of another importer with the understanding that the borrower will replace the product in time enough upon the arrival of his own product, a strategy which was designed with good intent to keep the market open and running but has backfired due to either the inability or callous refusal of some seemingly reckless companies to replace petroleum products they took and sold under the provisional lifting program.
Mr. Kaydea maintained that dredging of the Freeport and few other technicalities account for only a small portion of the shortage but the abuse of the provisional lifting by these delinquent companies or individuals who have failed or refused to pay back product given to them is the major cause of the problem.
Kaydea is therefore calling for the suspension and revocation of licenses as well as the prosecution of those whose’ willful actions or inactions led to the gasoline shortage which seriously affected the business of others and pushed the nation to the brink of economic collapse and chaos.
The Petro Trade boss called on President Weah to attach serious importance to the matter and personally ensure that the LPRC and other relevant state authorities review and/or cancel the provisional lifting exercise and that those who have deliberately defaulted be prosecuted for causing huge financial losses to other importers and the government and putting the country on the edge of economic instability.
He disclosed that his (Petro Trade) filling stations were selling 3000 to 5000 gallons a day but the shortage caused them to sell 1000 to 1500 gallons a day.
The tactical reduction in daily sale, he said, was a strategy to remain on the market and serve the public while efforts were being exerted to remedy the situation.
“We do that to manage the product and keep serving our people amidst the crisis caused by the shortage”.
Mr. Kaydea further revealed that the abuse of the provisional lifting framework did not start with the current administration (Weah-Government), but began in the previous regime up to about 68%, and continues in the current regime.
The Petro Trade chief has, however, advised government against the idea of instituting a petroleum product reserve, saying, “the idea is not necessary for now”.
He gave no details about his advice to government but promised to do so appropriately through the relevant government entities and functionaries