Liberalise fuel prices, firm tells government

Mugove Tafirenyika

GOVERNMENT-OWNED fuel retailer Petrotrade has called on authorities to liberalise the country’s fuel industry to allow players to procure and sell fuel in foreign currency, the Daily News reports.
 This comes as the government admitted last week that the fuel crisis would persist as it was facing challenges securing enough foreign currency to procure the product.
It also comes as most fuel stations across the country have run dry.
Petrotrade acting managing director Godfrey Ncube told the parliamentary portfolio committee on Energy yesterday that his company only had 250 000 litres left owing to shortages of foreign currency.
“It will be ideal, though painful and difficult for the government, to relax its control over the fuel industry and liberalise it so that fuel dealers operate on prices that make them remain viable in the business. Fuel companies should be allowed to source their own foreign currency, procure their own fuel and sell it at prices that they deem profitable enough for them to remain viable,” Ncube said.
On the other hand, Energy ministry permanent secretary Gloria Magombo told the committee-chaired by MDC MP for Binga, Gabbuzza Joel Guebuzza — that government has put in place plans to audit all companies that deal in fuel to ensure that when they sell in foreign currency they use their proceeds to procure more product.
“There will be an audit, with the help of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe because we expect those companies selling fuel in foreign currency to then use their proceeds to procure more fuel using whatever they realise from their sales rather than come back to the government to come in and provide them with foreign currency.
“We are also looking at capacitating the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (Zera) legally so that unscrupulous companies that export the same fuel they get are properly punished,” Magombo said.
The government admitted to the prospect of continued shortages in the Senate last week after MDC senator Elias Mudzuri asked Energy minister Fortune Chasi during a question and answer session on what the government was doing to solve the crisis.
In his response, Chasi admitted that they were facing challenges in dealing with the issue.
 “I think the nexus between the availability of foreign currency and the availability of fuel in the country is known to all of us.  It is also common cause I think that over the number of months preceding since the commencement of this pandemic, our capacity to generate foreign currency for our own purposes as a country was very much heavily affected.
 “All that being said, the government is working day in, day out to ensure that we put facilities in place for the importation of fuel and with the recently introduced foreign currency auction system we think that there will be greater capacity also to acquire foreign currency for purposes of fuel,” Chasi said.
 This comes after fuel prices shot up by a massive 150 percent two weeks ago after the Zimbabwe dollar plunged during the first week of the auction system.


 The price of fuel has gone up several times since January despite the country experiencing intermittent fuel supplies, with long queues still being witnessed at service stations across the county.

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