THE decision by the Government through the Energy Regulation Board (ERB) to remove subsidies on fuel will benefit Zambia’s economy and must be taken in the stride it is made that it is meant to save money to go into other developmental projects, Former Vice-President Enoch Kavindele has said.
Mr Kavindele said in the past, fuel subsidies only used to benefit the rich and not the poor people. On Friday, ERB vice board chairman Professor Francis Yamba announced that in line with the policy decision to remove fuel subsidies and the current policy direction to migrate to cost reflective pricing of energy services and products, it was decided to raise the price of fuel. In an interview with the Sunday Nation, Mr Kavindele said, in his opinion, the subsidy removal on fuel would certainly assist Government remove the problem of subsidising the rich.
“Zambia has been subsidising fuel for a long time, fuel which we don’t produce, fuel which we have to import from afar. So hopefully the money which was going to subsidies will now go into developmental projects. “This will benefit the economy since the money being saved can go into other development efforts of government,” Mr Kavindele said.
He also cautioned to stop wasting resources by buying fuel for some government officials and ministers. “What Government must do is reduce on the amount of fuel given to government officials and ministers because there is a lot of wastage.
“There are some officials including ministers who have about four/five government vehicles and each one of those is supported by government budget allocation,” he said.
Mr Kavindele said in future Government should consider giving vehicles to officials but let them buy their own fuel so that everyone was in the same situation. “US$1 billion per year is spent on subsidising consumers of fuel, so now Government will save that US$1 billion and apply it to other developmental needs that is the saving that will benefit the economy.
“I know, because we have been used to subsidies, the shock is there but that is meant to benefit the economy,” he said. Mr Kavindele said there was no Government which wanted to punish its people, adding that every Government wanted to do things that were for the benefit of its people.
“So I think this we must take it in the stride it is made, that it is meant to save money to go into other developmental projects,” Mr Kavindele said. He, however, observed that almost all governments had a tendency of failing to explain to its people the benefits of certain measures they take. Mr Kavindele said the decision to hike fuel price needed more discussions for people to understand what benefits would arise from the removal of subsidies on fuel.