Liberia: Petro Trade Warns Against Gas Reserve Strategy

20 February 2020

The Chief Coordinating Officer of Petro Trade Group warns the Government of Liberia to abandon plan to instituting a reserve strategy for petroleum brought into the country saying, "the idea is not necessary for now."

Speaking to reporters Tuesday at the Capitol Building shortly after a meeting of legislators and some key petroleum importers, Petro Trade chief coordinator, Abraham Kaydea noted the major problem for the excruciating shortage of gasoline here is gross abuse of provisional lifting at the Liberia Petroleum Refinery Company on Bushrod Island, instead.

According to him, provisional lifting is a practice under which the LPRC allows one petroleum importer to take the product of another importer with an understanding that the borrower would make replacement in time enough upon 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 inability or callous refusal of some seemingly reckless companies to replace petroleum products they took and sold under the provisional lifting program.

Mr. Kaydea explained dredging of the Freeport of Monrovia and few other technicalities account for only a small portion of the shortage, but the abuse of the provisional lifting exercise by delinquent companies or individuals is the major cause of the problem.

He calls for suspension and revocation of licenses as well as prosecution of those whose willful actions or inactions led to the gasoline shortage which seriously affected the business of others and nearly push the economic to collapse and chaos.

The Petro Trade boss called on President Weah to attach serious importance to the matter and personally ensure the LPRC and other relevant state authorities review and/or cancel the provisional lifting exercise, while those who have deliberately defaulted be prosecuted for causing huge financial losses to other importers, the government and putting the country on the edge of economic instability.

He disclosed that prior to the incident sales at his company were between 3,000 to 5,000 gallons a day but due to the shortage, they are now between 1,000 and 1,500 gallons daily.

The reduction, according to him, was a strategy to remain on the market while efforts are 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 reveals that the abuse of the provisional lifting framework did not start with the Weah administration, but previous regimes.

- Editing by Jonathan Browne

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