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2019 ghost haunts ED as he blocks another fuel price hike

HORIZONTAL

By Marrian Rushwaya

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has blocked another fuel price hike in what could pass as an effort by his under-fire administration to forestall a repeat of the January 2019 riots that were sparked by a sharp increase in prices of the petroleum commodity.

In a statement Saturday, the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA) said fuel prices were supposed to increase again this past week due to an increase of the products on global markets.

ZERA said another hike was put on hold following consultations with government and industry.

The authority said it has agreed to keep fuel prices at current levels while they continue to monitor market developments.

HORIZONTAL

It promised to continue giving consumers updates on the patently fluid situation.

“The Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA) will continue to monitor the fuel prices in the market and provide regular updates. The fuel prices continued to increase during the past week,” ZERA said.

“Pump prices were supposed to increase but after consultations with the government and industry, it was agreed to maintain the current prices while monitoring market developments.

“The public and operators are advised that the blending ratio remains at EO. Operators may sell petroleum products below the prescribed prices depending on their trading advantages and should display prices in a prominent place as provided for by the fuel pricing regulations.”

HORIZONTAL

ZERA increased fuel prices twice within one week, citing the hostile trade dynamics occasioned by the recent Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Diesel now costs US$1.68 and ZWL$218.01 per litre while petrol costs US$1.67 and ZWL$216.78 per litre following the latest increase.

State media quotes the President as having said, “There is no need to panic. I have directed the Ministry of Energy and Power Development to review and reduce duty and surcharges on fuel, so the pump prices of petrol and diesel remain manageable.

Mnangagwa also said, “We need stability in the fuel market, so we minimise imported inflation for price stability in the economy. Cabinet will be seized with this issue in days and weeks ahead.”

However, a third hike in fuel prices in a space of days could spell doom for the current administration which is already grappling to manage a volatile national mood caused by the prevailing economic hardships.

A fuel price increase in 2019 sparked riotous countrywide protests 2019 with millions worth of property lost through looting and destruction.

By blocking another hike, Mnangagwa also has eyes transfixed in pending by-elections 26 March with the turbulent state of the national economy most likely to be a key determent in voting choices.

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