Outrage over fuel price hike
HARARE – Zimbabweans have reacted angrily to government’s decision to hike excise duty on fuel to raise cash for the forthcoming referendum on Saturday and general elections thereafter.
Finance minister Tendai Biti on Monday announced the hike on excise duty for diesel from $0,20 to $0,25 per litre while petrol was increased from $0,25 cents to $0,30 per litre with effect from March 9.
This was among a cocktail of measures that the coalition government — which has so far raised only $31,5 million for the referendum out of the $85 million needed — has put in place to ensure polls are held despite depleted government coffers.
Renowned independent economist Eric Bloch said the increase in excise duty on fuel is understandable, in view of government’s critical need to improve on its inadequate revenues, but said the counterbalancing negative is that it will have some inflationary consequences.
“On the one hand, it will inevitably cause a rise in passenger transport costs and, on the other hand, it will result in increased costs of input procurement for industry, and of delivery of finished products to distributive outlets, with consequential increase in prices of goods sold to consumers,” Bloch told the Daily News.
He warned that the hike will also increase costs for service providers, necessitating increases in their service charges.
“It will also impact adversely upon operational costs in the agricultural and mining sectors, and as there is considerable movement of Zimbabwean exports by road transport, will contribute to increased export costs, and hence lesser competitiveness in export markets.”
Collin Mapfumo, a Harare motorist, said parties to the Global Political Agreement should have used money generated from the sale of the country’s minerals.
Raymond Majongwe, Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe secretary-general, said teachers never asked for the elections, “we do not need them and those who benefit from them must fund the process.”
“They are stealing from us because it is us who will bear the brunt of the inevitable rise in the cost of living because we pay fees and transport for our children in tertiary and secondary learning institutions,” he fumed.
“They should have taxed the rich who got 51 percent shares in foreign-owned companies and those who grabbed land since 2000.”
“It is more difficult for us because we transport students who pay 5 Randto College,” said Tatenda Gore, who plies the City-Mt Pleasant route in Harare.
“How do we hike the fare in response to the price of fuel as well as cushion ourselves against the loss to traffic police who are almost everywhere?” – Mugove Tafirenyika and Kudzai Chawafambira