Zambia’s fuel pump prices have surged to the highest since independence despite President Hakainde Hichilema’s rise to power on the promise of cheaper prices which he met at K17 per litre for petrol.
The Energy Regulations Board (ERB) announced that in February petrol would be pegged at K34.19 from K29.98 while diesel would be sold at K32.15, representing 14.04 and 7.31 percent hike respectively.
The price for Jet A1 would also surge to K32.69 from January’s K29.29, an 11. 61 percentage jump as kerosene remained the same at K20.44 unchanged in the last three months.
This means that the fuel prices would directly affect prices of essential goods and transportation, impacting negatively on ordinary citizens.
More importantly, the petroleum prices increase are generally thought to drive inflation and reduce economic growth.
In a statement on Wednesday, Reynolds Bowa, the ERB Board Chairperson blamed the drastic price hike to the ‘battled’ local currency which had depreciated by 9.81 percent against the United States Dollar.
“The depreciation of the Kwacha has resulted in an increase in the domestic wholesale and pump prices of petroleum products with the exception of kerosene,” Bowa revealed.
He further noted that from the last fuel price review, the international oil price of petrol increased by 0.53 percent while those of diesel and kerosene plummeted by 0.75 and 3.13 percent respectively.
Petrol, according to Bowa, increased from US$84.33 per barrel to US$84.78 a barrel as diesel reportedly marginally declined from US$96.79 to US$96.06 per barrel in that order.
During his opposition days, President Hichilema promised to streamline the procurement, supply and distribution cycle to eliminate extortion by middlemen while reforming fuel price taxation reforms to bring down the price of petrol to around K12 per litres.
The former ruling Patriotic Front (PF) administration had often come under severe knocks by the then opposition party, UPND which accused it of forming a cartel that was making K3 per every litre of fuel sold in Zambia, hence forcing the cost of fuel to sky rocket.
However, in the last two years the fuel pump price has more than doubled to now trade at K34.19 for petrol from around K17 per litre .
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