By LUCY PHIRI and GIDEON NYENDWA
THE reduction in the prices of fuel that are being announced by the Energy Regulation Board (ERB) has exposed the insincerity of Government regarding what they tell Zambians to be the cause of fuel hikes, former minister of Defence George Mpombo has said.
Dr. Mpombo said if the sharp increase in fuel prices were really as a result of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, there would have been no reduction in prices of fuel since the war was at its peak.
He said the government has not been sincere on what was sparking the increase in fuel prices and the cost of living in the country.
On Saturday, the ERB announced the reduction in the pump prices of petroleum products by K2.35 for petrol and K0.58 diesel.
Dr. Mpombo said the war was still raging and one would wonder how they managed to reduce the prices of fuel this time around.
He said the reduction shows that the war had nothing to do with the increase in fuel prices and the rising cost of living.
Dr. Mpombo said Government should not cheat Zambians by bringing in elements that do not have any impact because at the end of the day the fuel that the country uses does not come from Russia and Ukraine.
He also said the reduction announced by ERB is mockery because it does not bring any relief at all.
Dr. Mpombo said the fuel reduction should be able to meet the negative impact of the previous fuel increase.
“We can’t be having prices of fuel shooting up by plus K5 every time there is an increase and have reduction less than K5 all the time,” he said.
He said that the K0.5 reduction in diesel prices was an insult especially for the manufacturing industry that heavily depends on diesel.
And former Economics Association of Zambia (EAZ) president Lubinda Haabazoka said the high cost of the fuel cost was as a result of buying finished products instead of comingled stock.
Dr Haabazoka said the country was also heavily relying on fuel tankers to move the same fuel for an economy like Zambia.
He said in an interview that it was cheaper for an economy like Zambia’s to move fuel using pipelines and in this case comingled stock.
He said looking at the trends on the global oil market and also looking at the exchange rate there was no justification for any fuel increase.