The Energy Regulation (ERB) is adamant to confirm whether fuel prices would remain unchanged in the short term despite a sharp kwacha depreciation this week, which is a common price hike determinant.
In an interview, ERB director consumer and public affairs Fred Hang’andu, who refuted rumours that fuel prices would be adjusted upwards on Thursday night, admitted that depreciation of kwacha and increase of oil prices on the international market are the main determinants for fuel price.
However, he could not say whether the price of the commodity would be adjusted upwards before end of the year.
“It’s basically a rumour. An unfortunate rumour as far as we are concerned. There is no such thing as fuel hike; we follow a system, which is open to public scrutiny. We price our petroleum products on the basis of the cargo that is received. The cargo constitutes petroleum, and finished petroleum products. We buy fuel every day or every week. The cargo that we bought recently lasted for a period of about 60 days. So, our price review system is based on the period the cargo is in, so right now, I can tell you with certainty that there is no cargo and the fuel hike are just rumours they should just be ignored,” said Hang’andu.
“But whether fuel will increase before the year ends, that I cannot say because the key fundamentals, obviously, are the international oil prices and the exchange between the kwacha and the major currencies. Now, these fundamentals tend to change every time. What is cardinal is at the time that we are buying that cargo. So, I would lie to you if I were to say that this is what is likely to happen. What I can tell you is that three things might happen when we receive the next cargo: one; either the fuel prices will remain the same; two, fuel prices will increase and three; fuel prices will be reduced. We don’t know until we interrogate the numbers when we receive cargo.”