The NEWS (Monrovia)

14 December 2012

Liberia: Petroleum Distributors in 'Malicious Behavior'

The scarcity of petroleum products recently on the Liberian market was purely artificial, malicious and intentional, the Managing Director of the Liberia Petroleum Refining Company (LPRC) T. Nelson Williams said.

He told journalists Wednesday that some importers of petroleum products were engaged in hoarding the commodity to create a situation of dearth of the product on the Liberian market.

Mr. Williams said the apparent shortage was a scheme designed by some business people to make profit and enrich themselves over the holiday period at the expense of the Liberian people.

He explained that last week alone, management of LPRC supplied 550,000 gallons of petroleum products on the market and would continue to do so. The LPRC Chief disclosed that the selling price for gasoline is now US$4.23 or LD$310, while fuel oil is currently sold at US$4.51 per gallon which is LD$325.

"Any station or distributor selling above the approved market price will be prosecuted. The management of the LPRC is calling on the public to report any violation of hoarding to create artificial shortage and increase price. You may call 077901901 to report all illegal activities," Williams stressed.

He issued a caveat to importers and distributors to desist from any act of economic sabotage which would undermine the stability of the Liberian nation and people.

"Any station or distributors engaged in hoarding of any other act that may negatively impact the constant and continuous flow of petroleum products to the people of Liberian will have their importer or distributor license immediately terminated," the LPRC MD warned.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Commerce has also warned Petroleum Filling Stations of profiteering by creating artificial shortage through the hoarding of petroleum products supplied daily by the LPRC.

Commerce Ministry explained that an investigation into the artificial scarcity of petroleum products was conducted by a team of inspectors who uncovered some filling stations managers engaged in unscrupulous business practices.

A release from the Commerce Ministry revealed that some of these unscrupulous business people were selling the products above the recommended prices of US$4.23/LD$310 per gallon of gasoline as well as US$4.51l/LD$325.00 for fuel oil.

The Ministry also uncovered that these unscrupulous business people were found hoarding petroleum products to illegally supply unregulated sellers overnight; informed customers that they do not have any product when they are being supplied daily; and also informed customers that they are only selling the products to coupon holders, among others.

Some of those involved in the unscrupulous sale of petroleum products have been fined for creating a false alarm.

Due to the serious nature of the development, the Commerce Ministry is encouraging the public to report all violations by calling the Ministry's Hotline at 0880702865/0777605075 or the LPRC Hotline 077901901.

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