By JAMES KUNDA, STEVEN ZANDE, KASONDE KASONDE, ESTHER NG’ANDU and JULIUS PHIRI. -
VARIOUS stakeholders have welcomed the reduction in fuel prices with added calls to the Government to pursue ways of passing on the benefits of favourable market fundamentals to the ordinary Zambians.
Energy expert Johnstone Chikwanda appealed to the Government to take advantage of the falling oil prices and a stable Kwacha by investing the savings in ventures which could make the country more self reliant on fuel stocks.
“While I welcome the price reduction, I wish to encourage the Government to pursue other means of passing over the benefits of falling oil prices by investing the savings in some alternative benefits for the public other than price reductions alone,” Mr Chikwanda said.
He was reacting to the fuel price drop announced by the Energy Regulation Board (ERB) on Monday in which petrol, at retail price, is now pegged at K11.67 per litre and diesel at K9.87 per litre, from K12.50 and K10.72, per litre, respectively.
Kerosene has reduced from K6.81 per litre to K6.50 per litre, while Low Sulfur Gas (LSG) went down from K13.01 from K12.16.
Mr Chikwanda, who is also Energy Forum Zambia chairperson, said in a statement yesterday that as an alternative, the Government could introduce a temporal ‘oil exploration and special projects fund’ to finance construction of more fuel reserve tanks.
Public and Private Bus Drivers Association of Zambia (PPDAZ) president Josiah Majuru said the fuel price drop was an indication the Government was working hard to spread economic benefits across all consumers.
Mr Majuru, however, could not predict an immediate drop in public transport fares as the Kwacha could unexpectedly fluctuate and impose shocks on transporters.
Millers Association of Zambia (MAZ) chairperson Andrew Chintala said in a separate interview that the fuel price drop would contribute to further stabilising the price of the stable food.
Zambia Consumer Association (ZACA) acting executive secretary Juba Sakala attributed the pump price reduction to Government’s ‘good’ economic management policies which led to the appreciation of the Kwacha.
Mr Sakala urged service providers such as public transporters to adjust the bus fares downwards so that consumers feel the benefit of the reduction.
Zambian DNA spokesperson Spuki Mulemwa said the organisation was confident that the pump price reduction would cushion the high cost of amenities such as transport.
He said the appreciation of the Kwacha, which also contributed to the reduced mealie-meal prices, was a sign that the Zambian economy was improving.
The Zambia Consumer Association (ZACA) said the Government should be commended for the various efforts aimed at stabilising the economy, leading to the drop in the fuel prices.
ZACA acting executive secretary Juba Sakala said in a statement that the pronouncement on the price reduction was a move in the right direction and that various dealers should quickly adjust prices so that consumers could benefit.
The Civil Society for Poverty Reduction (CSPR) in Eastern Province also hailed the price reductions stating it would reduce the cost of conducting business in the country and further benefiting various consumers.
CSPR provincial coordinator Maxson Nkhoma said in a press statement yesterday that the reduced fuel prices would be sustained for a long time owing to the drop of crude oil prices on the international market.