Monday, June 24, 2013

Illegal diesel trade costing T&T billions a year: Ramnarine

Kevin Ramnarine believes the illegal diesel trade might be as big as the trade in illicit drugs.

The energy minister made the comment in an interview with the Express newspaper Sunday. However he was careful to say he does not have any conclusive evidence to support his belief, noting that he just has anecdotal reports.

"In my opinion the question that arises is what was the last government doing about it? In 2009 the country used 506 million litres of diesel and in 2010 that jumped to 650 million litres—that jump could not be because there were more cars on the road," the paper quoted the minister as saying.

Ramnarine suggested the increase in demand for diesel fuel had to be linked to the illegal trade. "This thing did not start last year. It’s been going on for decades but intensified over the last six or seven years, when the price of oil started to increase,” Ramnarine said. 

He gave the paper some figures:
  • 2011 diesel usage dropped slightly to 627 million litres
  • 2012 it dropped 14 per cent to 539 million
He said that was because the People's Partnership government started to implement structures to curb the illegal trade.

Police busted an illegal bunkering racket over the weekend and arrested two men allegedly connected with the operation that was being conducted out of Sea Lots.  Police seized nearly 23,000 litres of diesel that was stored in huge tanks that have been impounded at the National Petroleum (NP) compound, in Sea Lots. 
NP chairman Neil Gosine shows Minister Ramnarine the impounded tanks
The subsidized pump price for diesel fuel is $1.50 per litre and the black market prices ranges between US$6 and $8 a litre.

Ramnarine told the Express the natural market for the fuel is countries in the Caribbean. However he stated that he would not point fingers in any direction. 

He said the country is losing billions of dollars annually because of the illegal trade. He said state subsidy for fuel in 2012 was TT$4.4 billion and 52 per cent of that -  TT$2.3 billion - was for diesel.

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Jai & Sero

Jai & Sero

Our family at home in Toronto 2008

Our family at home in Toronto 2008
Amit, Heather, Fuzz, Aj, Jiv, Shiva, Rampa, Sero, Jai