Georgetown: The Government of Guyana, through the Guyana Energy Agency (GEA), is now giving permission for the trading of fuel across the Venezuela/Guyana border which was once deemed ‘illegal’, to continue on the condition that the materials are only used within the boundaries of the border.
The Agency noted that under its mandate from the Government, it has recognised that there are challenges in supplying fuel at border areas and this has resulted in persons buying fuel from neighbouring countries, more specifically in the North West District.
The statement was made in response to questions being raised concerning the use of fuel sourced “unofficially” or ‘illegally’ by persons in border locations. The GEA specifically outlined areas which will now be benefiting from the leeway which has been given by the Government.
“As for fuel, this applies to all of Region One; down the Cuyuni to below Aranka in Region Seven, and sub-region one of Region Eight. At this time, fuel supplied from our coast to Region Nine is generally less costly from fuel coming across the Brazilian border. Government does not consider fuel traded across the border as illegal in the areas mentioned,” the statement said.
The decision comes weeks after a massive fire destroyed the stelling, several boats and other surrounding buildings at Port Kaituma after a boat exploded that was reportedly transporting illegal fuel from the border.
However, the GEA has since explained that fires and explosions fall under the responsibility of the Guyana Fire Service (GFS) and the Guyana Police Force (GPF) and they are in the process of preparing a report which will then become the basis on which discussions will be held among the relevant Government agencies and stakeholders.
The Agency has disclosed, however, that while this decision has been made, officers of the GEA have and will continue to routinely visit the area at least twice per year in an effort to garner details of the happenings in the locations.
The monitoring agency has since warned, however, that while persons are now aware that the border trade will no longer be deemed illegal, special note should be taken of the condition which has been attached to it. “Persons found transporting or selling illegal fuel will be prosecuted according to the GEA, particularly as it results in loss of revenue from related tax losses and negatively affects legitimate businesses. The Agency reiterated that illegal fuel can also affect consumers owing to the fact that usually, the smuggled fuel is often of a lower quality than the legally imported product.
Anyone wishing to import an aggregate quantity of 2000 litres of petroleum and petroleum products in a vehicle, vessel or boat from across the border legally requires a Bulk Transportation Licence from the GEA. If a person is transporting bulk fuel in boats/vessels, the GEA’s officers are required to conduct inspections of the facilities, and all operators are required to submit the Petroleum Licence from the GFS, a Maritime Administration Department (MARAD) Inspection Certificate, Captain’s Licence, and a Vessel Licence.