Justice Minister Adel Abdel Hamid has granted several high officials in the Petroleum Authority the power of arrest, reported on Monday the privately owned daily Al-Masry Al-Youm (AMAY).
These officials include the authority chief, two vice presidents and five other high-ranking officials. The move reportedly comes as part of a wider effort to limit the smuggling of diesel and gasoline, AMAY said.
But some in the industry are wary of the decision. Hossam Arafat, head of the General Division of Petroleum Products at the Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce, told the private news website Sada al-Balad that he finds the move “impractical and unclear.”
Arafat doubts the Petroleum Ministry officials would have the time to tour and raid gas stations every day, and that it was impractical to give these individuals arrest powers instead of the inspectors who are already responsible for that kind of field work.
“The decision doesn’t even clarify whether their role will be to supervise or to monitor,” Arafat argued.
However, Supply and Internal Trade Minister Mohamed Abo Shady said that the Petroleum Ministry itself requested arrest powers.
“I will support the Supply Investigation Authority in the intensification of supervision over gas stations to limit smuggling and black market [activities],” he told AMAY.
Medhat Youssef, former head of the General Petroleum Authority, echoed Arafat’s sentiments, however, telling the privately owned Youm 7 that he didn’t expect the newfound powers to have a real effect on the smuggling problem.
“Smuggling doesn’t happen at gas stations, it occurs during transfer. Most stations don’t even receive their full quota of petrol, after more fuel was assigned to state gas stations owned by the Armed Forces,” Youssef asserted.