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Uganda Fuel Marking and quality Monitoring Programme (FMP).

Wednesday, 6th April, 2011

THERE is a ray of hope as far as improving Uganda’s petroleum sector is concerned; following the Government’s effort in the implementation of the new fuel marking and quality monitoring programme (FMP).

The programme managed by the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development and the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS), seeks to control and monitor the quality of petroleum products in the entire local supply chain.

Fuel marking is the introduction of a marker into the petroleum product (doping of the marker into the product) at a point of taxation (customs entry points) before clearance for entry into the country.

The programme is run using petro-mark, a fuel marking technology provided by United Kingdom’s Global Fluids International.

The monitoring process cuts across analysing and verifying fuel chemical components, density, quantities.

According to the UNBS executive director Dr. Terry Kahuma, the programme whose positive results are already evident, intends to create a fair competition among dealers in petroleum products.

“Since FMP also deals with detecting and curtailing adulterations and dilution of fuel and forestalling the entry of unmarked (smuggled or dumped) fuel into the market,

Whipping the market of such unacceptable practices will go a long way in protecting trade rules and regulations abiding dealers, final consumers and government revenue for the good of the economy,” he said.

He was delivering opening remarks of one day national consultative meeting for the public and private petroleum industry players, it was held last week at Imperial Royale Hotel.

The commissioner petroleum supplies department Rev. Frank Tukwasibwe said the programme is one of the numerous cardinal interventions government intends to undertake to streamline the booming petroleum sector.

How the exercise is executed
If it is about checking imports, products are received in road tankers and rail wagons at customs entry points through Busia, Malaba and Mutukula from where they are inspected for conformity with set standards, according to the programme’s senior petroleum officer and head of operations, Spero Byokunda.

Preliminary field tests are consequently conducted to verify key particulars like appearance, volume, temperature and density. Samples of the products are picked and forwarded to Kampala for a comprehensive laboratory analysis.

The programme is supported by fuel testing laboratories comprising a stationary laboratory in Kampala and a mobile unit capable of sampling and carrying out both preliminary and detailed tests.

Byokunda also explained that surveillance continues to retail outlets and depots where spot tests are conducted

Products that conform to the required standards are cleared for use and market distribution. Whereas those that fails to measure up to the required standards are quarantined and if need be, culprits may be penalised in tandem with the Petroleum Supplies Act 2003 and the 2009 Petroleum Marking and Quality Control regulation.

Project sustainability
Currently, the project is supported by funds that accrue from the sh5 per marked litre levy charged from private dealers, penalties and laboratory analysis fees.

The programme budgeted to run on a 2010/11 budget revenue of sh6.8b and from July-December last year, sh3.4b was realised.

Over sh6.4b is expected from fuel marking fees, sh114m from laboratory analysis fees, sh300m from penalties.

During the same financial year, the programme expects to spend over sh2.6b on buying marker chemicals, the cost accounts for 38% of the total expenditure budget.

According to Davis Ampwera, the finance and administration manager at the UNBS, the programme’s financial report portrays a deficit of over sh290m. In response, Government is considering increasing the fuel marking fees.

Programme challenges
The main challenge facing the FMP is mainly the rising cost of living and the depreciation of the shilling against the dollar coupled with reduced volumes marked resulting into reduced revenue. This affects monthly remittances to GFI and thus variation from the payment plan.

By David Ssempijja: The New Vision Newspaper

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