Stakeholders in Zambia on Tuesday expressed mixed reactions on the decision by authorities to increase the fuel pump price, with some saying it will affect consumers who are already overburden with various economic challenges.
The Energy Regulation Board (ERB), which announced the increase of fuel pump price for petrol to 15.98 Zambian Kwacha(about 1.23 U.S. dollars) from 15.20 Kwacha (about 1.17 U.S. dollars) per liter and the fuel pump price for diesel from 13.43 Kwacha to 14.23 Kwacha per liter, attributed this to depreciation of the local currency and continue rise in oil prices on the international market.
The Consumer Unity Trust Society (CUTS Lusaka), a local think-tank, said it was deeply concerned with the negative impacts that the move will have on consumers, particularly low-income consumers.
“The majority of consumers in Zambia will likely be affected by the rise in fuel pump prices through higher bus or taxi fares. It can be expected that public transport providers will soon increase their prices as they shift the burden of the higher pump prices to consumers, ” the think-tank said in a press statement.
Consumers, the think-added, are already feeling the brunt of the country’s economic situation and that the price hike will only worsen the current situation.
With inflation at 9.3 percent, the price of goods and services are increasing at a rate that is increasingly becoming untenable for consumers, it added.
Hakainde Hichilema, the country’s main opposition leader, said the hike was a slap in the face of already struggling Zambians.
“As if the cost of living is not already high enough, the government comes in with another slap in the face of the citizenry, sending all of us reeling to the floor,” he said in a statement.
But Johnstone Chikwanda, chairperson of the Energy Forum Zambia said the increase in fuel pump price was reasonable and in line with fundamentals which drive fuel price movements worldwide.
He said the reasons cited for the increase were justifiable because currently Zambia has no fuel subsidies to prevent such increases. Enditem