CLARITY ON FUEL PRICE MOVEMENTS VITAL

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By BUSINESS REPORTER

THE Energy Forum Zambia will start engaging stakeholders in the energy sector to find the best practice in price adjustment as part of the ongoing sector reforms.

EFZ chairperson Johnstone Chikwanda noted that there should be a systematic way of effecting the fuel price pump in a manner that would not inconvenience anyone.

He cited the term ‘effective from midnight’ as one aspect that usually did not sit well with customers on one hand and oil marketing companies (OMCs) on the other.

Mr Chikwanda told the Daily Nation that the “effect from midnight”was sudden and negatively affected plans as opposed to make it known in good time so that the public could cope with the situation.

Stakeholders to be involved in the consultations and debate would include consumer associations, representatives of motorists, representatives of oil marketing companies and Energy Regulation Board (ERB) to chat the way forward into the issue.

“For decades, Zambia has had a history of making price adjustment announcements with “effect from midnight.” And there has been consistent discontent against this practice by the public, fuel station owners and OMCs,” he said.

When a fuel price reduction was announced, Mr Chikwanda said, it gave a problem to oil marketing companies on the basis that they would run into a loss because of the old stock which could have been bought at a high rate. “On the other side, when the fuel price is increased, there is a public outcry not only regarding the quantum of the increase but also regarding the “effect from mid night” basis.  It can be deduced that on either side, there is discontent whenever there is a price movement.“I am of the considered view that this perception is a hypothesis which needs to be tested for it to remain valid in the 21st century. There is need to rethink and debate this system adequately to establish if the reasons behind it are still valid,” he said.

He said it was high time the matter was settled amicably as opposed to keeping the ‘with effect from midnight’ system and continue precipitating public discontent.

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