DOHA: The government yesterday ordered the setting up of a committee to fight the smuggling of diesel out of the country.
The committee would be provisional and tasked with putting an effective strategy in place to combat the menace. As a first step, the proposed panel is expected to tighten existing rules relating to distribution of diesel and its monitoring and frame new regulations, if necessary.
The Cabinet, at its routine weekly meeting yesterday, discussed the issue of the precious fuel’s smuggling and approved plans to set up the above panel.
Qatar News Agency (QNA) reported that the said panel would be a temporary body and “set necessary controls for controlling diesel smuggling”.
Diesel is a precious commodity here and although produced locally, its distributors buy it at market rates from the refinery.
During times of shortages there have been reports of Qatar even importing the fuel. The fuel is sold in the Qatari market at highly subsidized rates for the benefit of motorists (both citizens and expatriates) and Qatari companies.
To international companies operating in the country, it is sold at global rates. Woqod (Qatar Fuel), local petroleum products distributor, raised the price of diesel to QR1.50 per liter, from QR1, effective from May 1.
Market observers argued the price hike was aimed at checking diesel’s smuggling.
Woqod’s Chairman, H E Abdullah bin Hamad Al Attiyah, told reporters last February that most diesel bought here illegally was smuggled to other countries.
He said Qatar Petroleum (QP), the state’s energy arm, bought diesel at international rates, including from its own refineries, and resold it at heavily subsidized prices for the benefit of citizens and expatriates.
Al Attiyah had hinted then that Woqod was working with the Ministry of Interior to address the problem of smuggling.
He said the corporation had, in collaboration with the interior ministry, arrested a number of alleged diesel smugglers. “I believe the problem will be eliminated in the near future,” he had said expressing optimism.
Diesel prices in Qatar are one of the lowest in the world, including the GCC region, he said. The fuel is also of high quality. So its quality and the fact that it is available at highly subsidized rates make it vulnerable to smuggling. This makes a heavy dent in the state coffers.The Peninsula