1 January 2013

Zambia: 'Fuel Price No Reason for Meal Price Hike'

Photo: Daily Nation
Motorists line up for fuel at a petrol station (file photo).

THE millers and mealie meal traders should not attribute the current rise in mealie meal prices to the cost of fuel because there has been no increase in fuel prices for some time now.

Ministry of Energy Permanent Secretary George Zulu warned millers and mealie meal traders hiking the prices of the commodity on the pretext of high fuel and transportation costs to stop because that is not true.

He said in an interview yesterday that it was unfair for some mealie traders to use the fuel costs in rural areas as an excuse for charging exorbitant prices for the country's staple food.

Mr Zulu said the Government was spending billions of Kwacha subsidising the distribution of fuel to different parts of the country to maintain uniform fuel prices.

This was a way of cushioning the manufacturing and other sectors of the economy from the adverse effects of fuel prices due to costs of distribution of the commodity.

"The Government is doing its level best to make sure that the stability in the fuel prices is maintained by working in close collaboration with oil marketing companies.

The cost of transporting fuel to rural areas is being borne by the Government and it is unfair for a group of people or a single trader to claim that they have hiked mealie prices because of high fuel costs in rural areas," he said.

Mr Zulu said President Michael Sata's concern over drastic hikes in mealie meal prices were justified because the Government had subsidised the production of maize which is being sold to millers throughout the country.

He said his ministry has put in place measures to ensure that the country did not experience high fuel prices and shortages this year.

"As Ministry of Energy we are looking forward to a good working relationship with the OMCs so that through cooperation between the two parties and other stakeholders we ensure that the fuel keeps the country's economy running this year," he said.

Mr Zulu said the Government was promoting the investment in the creation of more hydroelectricity power stations and the opening of renewable energy sources.

"Our aim is to work on the complete eradication of power outages in the year 2013," he said.

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