ERB too quick to effect fuel price hikes – Musumali

Socialist Party secretary general Cosmas Musumali says Zambians get heavily burdened with fuel increments due to cartels that dominate the petroleum industry.

Reacting to the latest upward adjustment of fuel on prices on Radio Phoenix’s Let The People Talk, Tuesday, Musumali observed that Zambians were overburdened with fuel costs because government was too quick to effect increases.

“Fuel is part of the energy portfolio so we can’t look at it in isolation. Our heavy dependency on fuel makes us very vulnerable to changes on the global market. If fuel prices go up, they will reflect also on the pump price in this country. But there is something more to it in Zambia that even when the prices are lower at the global level, the consumer, the poor person in Zambia does not enjoy those low prices. But when the prices go up, they are almost automatic. Zambians get a heavy burden, they are loaded with those increments,” Musumali said.

He lamented that government had not made the right investments in the energy sector, giving rise to cartels which were dictating fuel prices.

“This has to do with the monopolies, with the cartels that dominate the fuel, the petroleum industry in Zambia. But it has also something to do with the government that taxes petroleum products very heavily and it has also got to do with the lack of investment, the strategic infrastructure that you require for petroleum products. Years back, they did set up Indeni and Indeni is an old piece of infrastructure. You would have thought by now we would have one of those in every province. By now we would have been connected to Kavinda in Angola and we would be getting our feedstock from there, processed and then distributed countrywide. So even within the petroleum bit of it where we are, there are huge inefficiencies, we have not invested appropriately. Indeni is not a proper refinery, it’s a separator more or less, we do not get the benefit of a proper refinery and because its old and we have not put money aside, we have not developed new capacities, once it breaks down, we are caught up with this cartel and that’s basically dictating those prices,” he said.

He said if the Socialist Party formed government, it would heavily invest in the energy sector to reduce dependency on oil products.

“First look at the whole energy mix, we need to ensure that bio-fuel becomes a top priority, ensure that solar becomes a huge priority. We also still have areas where we can develop certain aspects of hydropower. Although climate change makes us to become very cautious but even the bit of water that we have today, we could use it more productively and produce more hydro power using Kariba today if we manage the water resources properly. We are not managing it properly. And with that alone, we could cut our dependency on oil, on petroleum products,” said Musumali.

         

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