The Sunday News
Levi Mukarati, Harare Bureau
THE Government has announced, with immediate effect, new prices of fuel at service stations which will see diesel and petrol now selling at $3,11 and $3,31 respectively from the current averages of $1,37.
The new prices are expected to trigger availability of fuel in the country following shortages of the commodity over the past few months with the situation worsening in the past few days.
Announcing the latest prices last night, President Emmerson Mnangagwa also said tax rebates would be extended to all registered business entities in key economic sectors to cushion them from increased costs as a result of the upward review in fuel cost.
The President made the announcement at State House while flanked by Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga, acting Minister of Energy and Power Development Perrance Shiri and Minister of Finance and Economic Development Professor Mthuli Ncube.
President Mnangagwa said the new fuel prices were meant to curb a rampant illegal trade of the commodity.
“Following the persistent shortfall in the fuel market attributable to the increased fuel usage in the economy and compounded by rampant illegal currency and fuel trading activities, Government has today (yesterday) decided . . . with effect from midnight tonight (last night), a fuel pump price of $3,11 per litre for diesel, and $3, 31 per litre for petrol will come into effect. These prices are predicated on the ruling official exchange rate of 1:1 between the Bond Note and the United States Dollar, and also on the need to keep fuel retailers viable.”
The President said foreign missions and registered foreign bodies in Zimbabwe as well as tourists could fuel at designated points at US$1,24 per litre for diesel and US$1,32 per litre for petrol. He said such privileged groups could only do so upon production of proper identification documents. President Mnangagwa said in a bid to curb a ripple effect of the fuel price increase to general goods, tax rebates would be extended to key businesses in key sectors.
“Cognisant of the need to prevent generalised price increases for goods and services in the country, with the attendant hardships which that will entail especially to the commuting workforce, Government has decided to grant a rebate to all registered business entities in manufacturing, mining, commerce, agriculture and transport sectors,” he said.
“Details on the exact form the rebate system will take will be announced in due course. Given these cost mitigations and incentives, Government does not expect, and will not allow, businesses to trigger a new round of price increases. Equally, Government will enhance the export incentive scheme by additional 2,5 percent. Government has put in place measures to ensure constant fuel supply into the country for sustainable fuel availability.”
President Mnangagwa said Government was in the process of coming up with measures to cushion its employees from economic challenges.
“Government is putting in place measures to cushion its workers until a full review of Cost of Living Adjustment package due in April 2019 is affected in the context of the current budget. Government is aware of attempts by certain elements bent on taking advantage of the current fuel shortages to cause and sponsor unrest and instability in the country. Such politically motivated activities will not be tolerated.
“To curb continued misuse of fuel in the country, Government through relevant departments which include its security structures, have started on a comprehensive audit of all fuel draw-downs with a view to establishing points of leakages. Where criminal conduct is apparent, the law will take its course.”
The country has been facing fuel shortages since October after a panic buying wave gripped the nation. Zimbabwe had the lowest petrol and diesel prices in the region where averages are US$1,25.