Energy minister David Mabumba says there is no legislation that would enable government to regulate the energy sub-sector if his ministry goes ahead to surrender the fuel procurement authority to the private sector.

Mabumba says the process has since been put on hold until a “Petroleum Management Bill” is taken to parliament for approval.

“Government was expected to implement the new fuel procurement policy this month, which would have seen government pulling out of the responsibility to supply processed products,” Mabumba told ZNBC.

“The implementation should have been this month, but it was not possible to implement that process because it was too major and we needed a number of fundamental things to be put in place.”

He said the government went into consultations with experts to come up with a legal framework under which the private sector would operate when importing fuel.

“For example we don’t have an enabling legislation to support the private sector in financing the procurement of fuel. We don’t have regulations to support that process,” Mabumba said.

“So what we have been doing in consultation with other specialised groups like the Competition and Consumer Protection Agency, the Police Monitoring and Research Centre; we had to start working on a Bill which we are calling the Petroleum Management Bill aimed at providing the concept to do with the private sector.”

He said the Petroleum Management Bill would be taken to parliament by next month.

“We have to ensure that this legislation is passed first and we are hoping that by the end of this month, that legislation will be taken to Cabinet and then to Parliament for approval. By April we should be giving the tender to the private sector,” said Mabumba.

Critics of the PF government have warned that the government may create fuel crisis if the fuel procurement policy transition is mishandled.

Some government sources fear that there would be unprecedented corruption in the process if the government remains the regulator of the procurement tenders instead of focusing on pump price regulation.