Zim­babwe Pres­i­dent hikes fuel prices to tackle short­ages

The Borneo Post - - WORLD -

HARARE: Zim­babwe’s Pres­i­dent Em­mer­son Mnan­gagwa has an­nounced an sharp in­crease in fuel prices in a mea­sure to im­prove sup­plies as the coun­try strug­gles with its worst petrol short­ages in a decade.

After years in in­ter­na­tional iso­la­tion, Zim­babwe’s econ­omy has been on a down­turn for more than a decade with cash short­ages, high un­em­ploy­ment and re­cently a scarcity of ba­sic sta­ples like bread and cook­ing oil.

In an ad­dress on state tele­vi­sion late Satur­day, Mnan­gagwa said prices of petrol and diesel would more than dou­ble to tackle a short­fall caused by in­creased fuel usage and il­le­gal trad­ing.

Mnan­gagwa, who took over from long- time leader Robert Mu­gabe and won a dis­puted elec­tion in July, also an­nounced a pack­age of mea­sures to help state work­ers after strikes by doc­tors and teach­ers over pay.

He said from mid­night petrol prices would rise to US$ 3.31 ( 2.89 eu­ros) from US$ 1.24 a litre and diesel prices to US$ 3.11 from US$ 1.36 a litre.

“Fol­low­ing the per­sis­tent short­fall in the fuel mar­ket at­trib­ut­able to in­creased fuel usage in the econ­omy, and com­pounded by ram­pant il­le­gal cur­rency and fuel trad­ing ac­tiv­i­ties, gov­ern­ment has to­day de­cided on the fol­low­ing cor­rec­tive mea­sures,” he said an­nounc­ing the changes.

The fi­nance min­is­ter this week said the prices were lower than other coun­tries in the re­gion and some for­eign­ers were tak­ing ad­van­tage buy­ing fuel in bulk in Zim­babwe for re­sale in neigh­bour­ing coun­tries.

The an­nounce­ment came after fuel short­ages which be­gan in Oc­to­ber last year wors­ened in re­cent weeks with mo­torists some­times spend­ing nights in queues at fuel pumps stretch­ing for kilo­me­tres.

Mnan­gagwa said for­eign diplo­mats and tourists would get fuel at cheaper prices at cer­tain des­ig­nated points. The gov­ern­ment also in­tro­duced mea­sures to curb a par­al­lel mar­ket where fuel was be­ing sold at five times the of­fi­cial price.

Doc­tors in state hos­pi­tal went on a 40- day strike be­gin­ning early De­cem­ber de­mand­ing salaries in US dol­lars and im­proved work con­di­tions.

Teach­ers unions also called a strike this week for bet­ter pay, though their calls went largely un­heeded.

Mnan­gagwa also warned against “cer­tain el­e­ments bent on tak­ing ad­van­tage of the cur­rent fuel short­ages to cause and spon­sor un­rest and in­sta­bil­ity” in the coun­try.

As part of fi­nan­cial re­forms, Zim­babwe also plans to rein­tro­duce a lo­cal cur­rency “in less than 12 months”, after us­ing the US dol­lar and re­gional cur­ren­cies since its hy­per­in­fla­tion cri­sis a decade ago.

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