9 August 2017

Zambia: Govt's Move to Reduce Fuel Prices Commendable

Photo: Pixababy
(File photo).

The Patriotic Front (PF) Government has truly lived to its word when it promised a few months ago that it will constantly review the prices of fuel and other petroleum products.

The Government said this in view of the positive performance of the Zambian economy, which saw the local currency (Kwacha) rally against other convertible international currencies.

Energy Minister David Mabumba did explain in January this year when fuel prices were adjusted downwards that, Government had initiated a mechanism of reviewing fuel prices bi-monthly in respect to the shifting market fundamentals that affect both wholesale and retail cost of the commodity.

The idea was to adjust prices based on the performance of the Kwacha against other international currencies as well as oil prices on the global market.

This is exactly what the Government has done through the Energy Regulation Board (ERB), by reducing further fuel prices in line with the performance of the Kwacha.

Petrol prices have been reduced to K11.67 from K12.50, Diesel will now cost K9.87 from the previous K10.72 while, Kerosene will cost K6.50 from K6.81, with Low Sulphur gas settling at K12.16 down from K13.01.

While the Government is on the right track regarding the energy sector, there is also need by players in the industry such as Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs), filling stations, traders and other business outlets to adhere to the set rules by not exploiting consumers.

The problem has been that players mostly traders, have failed to follow suit by also adjusting their goods and services downwards when fuel prices are reduced.

It is also expected that the prices of most commodities and services such as mealie meal, transport as well as goods and services to remain stable for a long time.

The Government needs support from all the stakeholders to enable its sound economic policies bear more fruit.

Government initiatives to review fuel prices every two months will enable the business community and members of the public plan better in advance.

As Energy expert Johnstone Chikwanda has suggested, the Government should now pursue additional ways of passing on the benefit of favourable market fundamentals to the public.

Government should also endeavour to take advantage of the falling oil prices and a stable Kwacha by investing in ventures which would make the country more self-reliant in fuel stocks.

The move to reduce prices is commendable as fuel affects all areas of commerce and industry in any given economy.

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