Fuel stations lose licences…Overcharging proves unprofitable, Government focuses on retailers

Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa addresses the media after a Cabinet meeting while flanked by Finance and Economic Development minister Professor Mthuli Ncube, Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Dr Sekai Nzenza and Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement Perrance Shiri at Munhumutapa Offices in Harare yesterday (Picture by Tawanda Mudimu)
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GOVERNMENT has withdrawn service licences for some service stations that were charging fuel prices above those recommended by the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority.

Briefing journalists after yesterday’s Cabinet meeting, Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa also said the amendments to Statutory Instrument (SI) 122 of 2017 had begun bearing fruits as the availability of basic commodities on the market was gradually improving.

She said Cabinet was concerned about the continuing high prices, insistence by some retailers on payment in hard currency and the prevalence of the three-tier price structure.

Minister Mutsvangwa said to protect the public, Cabinet resolved to “vigorously” enforce regulations which outlaw the three-tier pricing system and sanction those found on the wrong side of the law.

On withdrawn fuel licences, she said: “Government has withdrawn licences of some fuel service stations caught engaging in irregular trade practices.

Government also observed that the availability of fuel had significantly improved amid high hopes that the situation should normalise in a few days’ time. Cabinet, once again wishes to reaffirm its commitment to bringing normalcy to the situation as soon as possible.”

Energy and Power Development Minister Dr Joram Gumbo said Glow Petroleum had three of its service stations shut down for overcharging.

“Overcharging was the main reason for closing those service stations,” he said.

“ZERA regulates the prices of diesel and petrol and if you overcharge you get disciplined. This is really what happened. They got punished because they were charging above the recommended prices.”

Early this year ZERA pegged the pump prices at not more than $1,34 for diesel and not more than $1.41 for petrol.

Minister Mutsvangwa said the full effects of the amendments to SI 122 of 2017 would be felt by mid-November.

She said the dialogue between President Mnangagwa and captains of industry on Monday had set the right tone for an inclusive approach in resolving national challenges.

“As a way forward, Cabinet resolved the need for continuous dialogue between Government and the private sector in order to create common partnership in addressing national economic challenges,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.

“It also resolved on the need to engage seed and fertiliser suppliers in order to guarantee the affordability of agricultural inputs especially seeds and fertilisers and the need to have an industrial fund in particular the foreign currency component, for re-tooling of the local industry. That assistance be targeted at small to medium enterprises in manufacturing in order to boost production and availability of basic commodities.”

She said Cabinet had also resolved that work on the local content policy be urgently finalised to promote the utilisation of local resources by industries.

This, she said, reduced demand on foreign currency as well as increased employment creation.

Minister Mutsvangwa said Cabinet emphasised on the need to pursue Government to Government agreements with countries like India for the provision of medicines to alleviate shortages.

“Such arrangements should enable NatPharm to procure medicines on credit,” she said.

“The visit by the Vice President of India (Muppavarapu Venkaihah Naidu) during the course of this week should provide some significant headway in that regard.

Minister Mutsvangwa said Cabinet considered and approved the Memorandum of Understanding on the harmonisation of the Seed Regulatory Framework in Sadc from the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement (Perrance Shiri).

Zimbabwe will benefit from the MoU through increased access to regional seed markets for local companies, increased seed production, increased competition resulting in improved varieties and service delivery, improved national seed and food security through increased production as well as increased foreign currency earning through export of seed.

She said Cabinet had also approved the Bilateral Air Service Agreement between Zimbabwe and Mozambique.

The main objective of the agreement is to provide a governing framework for the operation of air transport between the two countries.

Minister Mutsvangwa said Cabinet further approved principles of the Public Finance Management (Amendment) Bill presented by Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube.

The Bill seeks to align the Public Management Act to the Constitution, enhance the public resources management framework in line with best practices and incorporate provisions that facilitate allocations of revenues to provincial and local tiers of Government

It seeks to provide for the separation of estimates of revenue and expenditure for specific institutions and embrace the principle of mainstreaming gender responsive approaches to finance management matters and elimination of discrimination against women.