By: Anthony Bwalya – UPND Member
The United Party for National Development (UPND) continues to emphasize the role that individuals, households and small businesses must and ought to play in our collective national endeavor to deliver rapid, sustainable, inclusive economic growth and development.
And part of the process of ensuring that the role of individuals, households and small businesses remains unhindered in contributing to robust economic growth, is to ensure that we deliver on the promise of enhanced, reliable, cheap and affordable access to energy – including fuel.
This is a critical component of our manifesto on energy.
The party’s leadership, as is the general populous, is and remains deeply saddened and dismayed at the recent increase in the pump price of fuel.
As expected, this will injure not only the cost of doing business, but also cause a spike in the general cost of living; pushing many millions of our already vulnerable citizens beyond the margins of poverty and destitution.
With our national growth forecast, already projected at less than 2% for the year 2019, we anticipate that a slow down in economic activity as businesses adjust to and absorb the increase in costs, will further undermine any prospects of any positive growth and ultimately harm – not only government’s own ability to raise revenue but also decapitate the provision of critical public services such as health and education.
This is why the UPND is concerned.
We would also like the public to note with us, that around 43% of the all the cost components of the pump price of fuel are all controllable costs – Energy Regulation Board fees, Excise Duty, OMC margins, dealer margins, VAT; all these and a few more are within the control of the government.
The question is why is the PF government reluctant to give way on one or more of these controllable cost components as a way to lower the pump price of fuel and begin to stimulate economic activity at a micro level?
Self interest. They are primary beneficiaries. They are the principal architects of OMC cartels and transport companies that are getting paid to harm our economy.
The UPND’s strategy is vast and cuts across all the different cost components in respect of the fuel procurement, marketing and distribution cycle. However, the summary of it is that:
1. We shall review all institutional taxes and duties and ensure that such are realigned to, as far as possible, help stir micro economic activity through cheaper access to fuel products. The aim is to reduce or scrap some of the institutional taxes and duties levied at the pump, which adversely affect the final price of fuel.
2. We shall review the role of OMCs in the fuel procurement, marketing and distribution cycle to ensure that any involvement, if at all required, by any such companies in the process of procuring, marketing and distribution of fuel does not result in consumers taking on unnecessary costs at the pump.
This is to say in certain and only in exceptional circumstances, middlemen might be a necessary component as part of the process of efficiently delivering fuel to our people everywhere, BUT we have to absolutely mitigate against the excessive rewarding of middlemen, if and where they are deemed a necessary component of the fuel supply cycle, so that we do not unnecessary punish our people.
3. Allow OMCs to import finished oil products from secure, reliable and credible sources in a transparent manner while we reinvest in Indeni Oil Refinery to update the technology. This is to ensure that the public are not paying for inefficiencies associated with processing the product using olden technology.
All this said, the UPND’s commitment is to deliver a pump price of less than 20 – 25% on the current premium once we get elected.