By Nyasha N Mukapiko
There are chances that duty-free fuel being imported by Sakunda Holdings intended for the Dema Diesel Power Plant could be finding its way to the black market, as the country is yet to put a fuel marking system in place.
The Dema Power Plant which was built at a cost of above US$250 million, was meant to help ease electricity shortages in the country when power general at Kariba was reduced owing to dwindling water levels.
When running at full throttle, the power plant consumes anything in the region of 500 000 litres of diesel per day and between 12-15 million litres per month.
Appearing before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy last week, Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA) chief executive officer Gloria Magombo admitted that the country doeant have a fuel marking system adding that the current system only check for fuel quality.
“The current regulatory monitoring mechanism were we check fuel in the market is done mainly to assure the quality of the product whether its diesel 500 or diesel 50 and its quality, the issue of whether the fuel has paid duty or not can only be done if we implemented a fuel marking system,” she said.
Fuel marking is the introduction of a unique identifier (bio-chemical liquid) in trace quantities into petroleum products at depots before distribution unto the market. The marker creates “fingerprint” and provides a secure, tamper-proof method of authentication.
If the marking system is implemented, it is estimated that the country can save US$240 million annually in revenue that is currently being lost to smuggling according to some industry experts.
Last week on Wednesday during question and answer session in the National Assembly, Uzumba legislator Simbaneuta Mudarikwa, quizzed the Minister of Energy and Power Development Simon Khaya Moyo on why it was taking long to mark fuel as ameans of controlling smuggling.
In his response, Minister Khaya-Moyo said the issue was currently under discussion in government and that it will soon be implemented.
“It is true that marking helps a lot to check on the quality of fuel one brings into the country. This is a matter which is not on at the moment. It is a matter which we are discussing and that which we hope to introduce shortly,” said the Minister.
Globally, tens of billions of dollars are being lost annually as a result of fuel fraud and smuggling and governments have tried to develop comprehensive fuel-marking systems using advanced technology molecular markers and sophisticated management systems that result in timely, actionable intelligence, allowing governments to mitigate tax evasion and subsidy abuse, minimize financial losses, and raise revenues.