Monday, September 4, 2017

What is at stake at the Commission of Inquiry - Petroleum sub-sector

Commission Of Inquiry into Jammeh's illicit wealth 
Prior to the nationalization in March 2015 of the Gambia National Petroleum Corporation, procurement of petroleum and petroleum products was monopolized by the Euro-African Group.  

The company that is jointly owned by Mohammed Bazzi (30.8%), Social Security and Housing Finance Corporation (31%), also built the Madinari Fuel Depot a company jointly owned by the Lebanese businessman Mohammed Bazzi, Amadou Samba, Faddi Magezzi (10.3%), Amadou Samba (9.9%), GPA (10%), GNPC (7%) and Premier Investment Group (1%). 

For six years, the controlling shares (52%) of this strategic national infrastructure was controlled by private/foreign interests. The products the Bazzi-controlled company imported ranged from petrol, diesel and jet fuel for petrol stations and airport to heavy fuel and lubricants for NAWEC.

The monopoly environment was deliberately created by Jammeh for himself and his business cronies which proved quite lucrative for the very favored few at the expense of the economy and everyone else. 

How lucrative was it?   According to our sources, the cartel bought one metric ton of fuel for US$400 and sold it to NAWEC for US$700 per metric ton, nearly double the price, the profits of which were deposited in offshore accounts.  

This exorbitant price fixing that borders on criminality partly answers the question in the lips of many frustrated energy consumers as to how NAWEC  ended up being in arrears of US$64 million  to the Euro-Africa Group resulting in further costing the government millions more.  

The government was forced to purchase the Brikama power plant which was an IPP owned by Bazzi which he had to surrender to the Standard Chartered Bank because he defaulted on a loan.  The history that led to this default which was costly to the public treasury must be investigated.   

With annual consumption in the tens of thousands of metric tons, hundreds of millions of dollars in profits were realized since the Madinari fuel facility was inaugurated by Jammeh in 2008 at a cost of US$50 million.  We are still investigating whether it was government that guaranteed the loan that built the Mandinari facility.

NAWEC now buys at US$400 per M/T instead of US$700 per M/T unless these economic predators are allowed to bribe their way back into having a stranglehold on the Gambian economy.  For them to succeed, they will have to fight an increasingly restless and highly agitated population that have been exploited for over two decades by Yaya Jammeh and his cronies   NEVER AGAIN.


Note to our esteemed readers:  To help you focus on what we consider to be the important areas of the Commission of Inquiry's deliberations, we will be highlighting key aspects of the inquiries with special attention paid to details that may have been lost in translation or not covered in detail.   

This is the first of several installments that focuses on one aspect of the petroleum sub-sector which has been dominated by a handful of Lebanese businessmen with Gambian collaborators.  Gambians welcome the breaking up of the monopoly who will insist that those still holding on to their shares must dispose of them as soon as feasible.