By Jariatu Bangura & Samuel J. Kargbo
Members of Parliament yesterday passed into law the Regulatory Agency Act of 2013, a document that will pave way for the establishment of the Sierra Leone Petroleum Regulatory Agency with the responsibility to license and regulate the efficient importation, storage transportation and distribution of petroleum products to ensure its regular availability to consumers at reasonable costs.
Presenting the bill for approval, Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Alie Badara Mansaray, explained that the new Act will ensure the liberalization and re-regulation of the petroleum downstream sector with the petroleum regulatory body replacing the existing Petroleum Unit.
“The Petroleum Regulatory Agency will take over the licensing, regulation and monitoring of operators and operations in the petroleum downstream to ensure efficient delivery of service, including regular availability of petroleum products to users,” he said and added that the agency will also effectively coordinate national petroleum requirements to ensure uninterrupted supply of all grades of petroleum products.
According to Minister Mansaray, the Agency will effectively harmonize local pump prices with international trading prices of petroleum products, implement strategic stocks program for Sierra Leone and institute an on-going comprehensive downstream petroleum data.
He added that if a trader, refiner or importer fails to answer a question as required under the new Act or furnishes an answer to the question which is false or misleading in any material respect knowing the answer to be false or misleading, commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding Le5 million or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months.
Chairman of the Trade Committee in Parliament, Hon. Mohamed Sidie Tunis, said the issue of fuel shortage has become a menace in the country, but that he establishment of the regulatory agency will help in overseeing the activities of importers of petroleum products.
He maintained that the agency will give room for sanction to all defaulters, which will minimize the shortage of fuel in the country.
Minority Leader of Parliament, Hon. Bernadette Lahai, stated that the passing of the Act was very much timely.
She noted that sustainable energy is highly needed in order to have sustainable development across the country.