….2M paid into Consolidated FundA multi-stakeholder approach has greatly aided in curbing the scourge of fuel smuggling. This is the stance of the Guyana Energy Agency (GEA) which noted on Monday that the “hard work” of its inspectors, in collaboration with sister agencies which form the Task Force on Fuel Smuggling and Contraband, conducted 16 joint operations.This Task Force comprises the Guyana Police Force, Guyana Defence Force’s Coast Guard, Guyana Revenue Authority and the Customs and Anti-Narcotics Unit.“The Inspectorate, using strategic sampling and monitoring activities and maintaining a permanent presence in Regions 2, 7 and 10 continues to effectively discharge its duties, greatly aiding in the curbing of the scourge of fuel smuggling. GEA continues to closely monitor reports of fuel smuggling activities,” the body noted.It was further pointed out that for the period under review, a total of seven charges of possession of illegal fuel were instituted, which represents an increase in the total number of charges filed for 2015, where only five were instituted.GEA noted that as at June 30, 2016, six prosecutions were engaging the Courts. However, GEA pointed out that it is in receipt of compensation from offenders.A GEA release on Monday noted: “Recognising the need to resolve incidents without reverting to sometimes lengthy legal proceedings while maintaining a punitive element in determination, the GEA continues to accept compensation from offenders in accordance with the Act. For the first half of the year, the sum of $1,214,500 has been accepted in three incidents as compensation, exceeding the quantum received the previous year.”It was pointed out that this sum, as mandated by statute, is paid into the Consolidated Fund.GEA added that the Fuel Marking Division of GEA performed “admirably” for the first half of 2016. It further pointed out that the illicit trade is estimated to have been accounting for one-third of the fuel imports of the country, but indicated that the government sought to implement fuel marking and testing services to find the illegally imported fuel and to prosecute the perpetrators.In its period under review (January to June 2016), GEA found that 107 shipments of fuel were legally imported. GEA added that investigations into several fuel smuggling matters are ongoing: “The total quantity of fuel seized also increased by 76 per cent compared with the amount seized in 2016 being 6200 gallons while the number of confirmed incidents for the year stands at 15, a decrease from 22 last year. The quantity of fuel seized increased greatly following two large seizures in the Mahaica and Pomeroon areas.”GEA observed that its laboratory analysed 23,251 samples for the first half of this year, as compared with 20,926 for the same period last year: “Results of the analysis indicate that while more samples are being taken and tested in the laboratory, the amount of significant dilution of the fuel marker remains under 3 per cent. This is a testament to the effectiveness of programme as from its inception this has decreased from 34 per cent in 2006.”Fuel smuggling refers to the importation and distribution of petroleum and petroleum products, particularly petrol (gasoline) and diesel, by both legitimate and illegitimate businesses without the necessary taxes having been paid.