Another fuel price hike as govt’s belt tightening moment turns farcical

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By Alois Vinga

FUEL prices increased once again Saturday with petrol now ZWL$9.01 per litre while a litre of diesel is now selling at ZWL$9.06.

The increase is the third inside three weeks.

Until the latest increase, petrol sold for ZWL$7.55 and diesel for ZWL$7.22 per litre.

Service stations around the Harare CBD Saturday evening were already selling the precious liquid at the new prices amid fears the fast increasing fuel prices could lead the country back to the hyper inflationary situation experienced 2008.

Most service stations which had stopped to sell fuel towards end of day Saturday were back to normal business around 6:30pm after the price adjustments.

Efforts to get a comment from the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority were fruitless but the regulator confirmed the new prices through its twitter handle.

“The changes in fuel prices are due to FOB price movements and revised duty regime under Statutory Instrument 161 of 2019. Operators may however sell at prices below the cap depending on their trading advantages,” read the tweet.

Motorists interviewed raised concerns on why fuel prices were immediately adjusted despite the fact that service stations were selling old stock.

The development comes just two days after Finance Minister, Mthuli Ncube rolled out another set of reforms which effected a 300% electricity tariff increase and 500 % increase in toll gate fees as well as vehicle parking fees.

The reform announcements have popularly been described as the “Economy Horror Script” due to their impact in terms of worsening the hardships being experienced by Zimbabwean workers whose wages remain stagnant.

Markets speculators feel the adjustments in fuel prices will further spike inflation figures which currently stand at 176% and kill demand which in turn will push the nation’s economy into recession.

Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube has, in the recent past, been urging locals to tighten their belts as the economy flies through turbulent austerity which he says will not last for long.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who took over the country 2017 on a promise to restore economic prosperity in the troubled country, has acknowledged the difficulties locals were going through but insists difficult times will soon be a thing of the past.