The Minister for Fisheries and Aquaculture, Elizabeth Afoley Quaye, has defended her decision to appoint her brother Joseph Botchwey, as the acting Administrator of the National Premix Committee.
Fishermen along the coasts of Ghana have complained of the irregular supply of premix fuel throughout the year, a situation that is affecting their livelihood.
Citi News this week laid hands on a scandal where Oil Marketing Companies (OMC’s) diverted 249 consignments of premix fuel meant for fisher-folk across the country, to be sold to industries, mostly within the Tema metropolis.
Some have blamed the appointment of Joseph Botchwey as interim administrator of the Committee as a likely cause.
But speaking to Richard Dela Sky on Eyewitness News on Tuesday, Elizabeth Afoley Quaye laughed off the matter, saying “will you not appoint a competent brother of yours to hold a position in your office? Would you not? Because you hate your relations, even when they are competent enough to hold positions, you will not give it to them?”
Still directing her comment at Richard Dela Sky, Ms Quaye said: “I have not put myself in any conflict of interest. Maybe you have to go back yourself, and find out who is the substantive administrator of the premix committee. His or her government has ended and a new era is in place. He or she is not at the premix secretariat, please!”
Even though the Ministry by a legislative instrument is mandated to police the sector, the Minister told Citi News that she expected the NPA to effect the arrest of the perpetrators.
“We have not had a tracking system so when they find people culpable, why are they not arrested? They should be arrested because we do not have a tracking system and the NPA is also a statutory institution – a state institution that works together with the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, their duty is to do the monitoring and find out who are perpetrating what crime so they find these people out. All I expect is that these people will be prosecuted…As the Fisheries Minister, all I do is to ensure that the premix fuel gets to the Fishermen. If the NCA tells me that they have found some OMCs perpetrating this crime, I expect the NCA to take an action.”
I don’t have tracking system; NPA must arrest
The Minister clearly appeared indifferent about her role in addressing the problem of pre-mix fuel diversion as alleged by the National Petroleum Authority (NPA).
According to her, the ministry does not have a tracking system to identify culprits hence the National Petroleum Authority (NPA), which has a system to track such happenings “must take action.”
The NPA in series of letters dated between January and October 2017, informed the National Pre-mix fuel Committee and the Fisheries Ministry to take action against some Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) that are involved in the diversion of the product meant for fisher-folk in the country’s coastal communities.
The OMCs, according to the letter, took supply of the pre-mix fuel at the Tema Oil Refinery supposedly to be supplied to fishing communities outside Accra, however, they ended up supplying them within Accra often to industries.
The development, which has persisted for several months, appear to be a major factor for the collapsing fishing industry, with a decline in local fish production and increase in fish imports.
But in a rather combative interview, Madam Afoley Quaye said she was informed that the supposed diverted pre-mix fuels were duly received.