Regions 1, 2 & 7 record highest levels of fuel smuggling – GEA

CEO of GEA Mahender Sharma

Regions One, Two and Seven continue to lead the way in fuel smuggling as the Guyana Energy Agency (GEA) seized over 1057 gallons of illegal fuel worth over $1 million between January 1 and May 31, 2019.

According to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Guyana Energy Agency, Dr Mahender Sharma, the seizures were made during four separate operations conducted by enforcement staff.

“In Region One, fuel is permitted to enter the country at a lower tax rate but must be utilised solely within that region.  This fuel, however, sometimes filters through to Region Two.  As areas bordering Venezuela, the presence of illegal fuel in Regions One and Seven is notable”, Sharma noted.

Guyana Times was told that for the year thus far, the GEA continues to work steadfastly in identifying and tackling the issue of fuel smuggling throughout the length and breadth of Guyana.

As of May 31, 2019, inspectors of the GEA would have conducted 5536 site visits and collected a total of 11,492 samples of diesel, gasoline and kerosene throughout the country.
Dr Sharma, during the interview, stated that the GEA continues to collaborate closely with its sister agencies, including the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), to identify and “appropriately deal with” persons who are found in possession of illegal fuel.

It was also noted that capacity-building through relevant training programmes is presently on-going.

Just a few months ago, Commissioner General of GRA, Godfrey Statia stated that billions of dollars in revenues have been recouped from seizures of illegal fuel over the past three years, as the GRA continues to dent the “Black Market” with support from its sister agencies.

He had said that being cognisant of the issues, the GRA has taken corrective action to bolster resources and foster more collaboration with sister agencies to safeguard and protect borders from nefarious activities.

Statia pointed out that since he took office in 2016, the measures put in place have allowed for billions of dollars in revenue to be recouped from the seizure of illegal fuel alone.

“In Region One alone, over $375 million was collected from fuel smuggling in 2018, while the Law Enforcement and Investigation Division (LEID) recovered over $600 million in duties, taxes and fines, of which $124 million was a result of fines, and $119 million from sales and auctions from seizures,” he had told the media.

Having reinforced its presence at the frontier locations and shifted much of its Revenue Protection and Risk Management focus away from low-risk and trusted traders, the GRA has been able to zero in on high-risk traders and smugglers.