By Fumba Chama AKA Pilato
The indication by the Central Bank Governor to raise the fuel and electricity tariffs is and was expected. It was expected because for a long time we knew that these were subsidized costs. The real cost is and was not what we the people pay for. Removing these subsidies was the song that the PF preached from inception and whenever the ERB was approving upward adjustments to the costs of fuel and electricity tariffs, they reminded us that it was because the costs were not reflecting the reality at the market level.
Increasing the costs of electricity or fuel is not really the problem. I do not think that the problem is the actual cost of electricity or fuel. To assume that the problem is the cost is a huge misunderstanding and may not be helpful for those charged with the responsibility to find solutions to our problems. WHAT then is our problem?
Our problem is the fact that the majority of our people cannot afford it. We still have a huge number of unemployed youths, who are not sure of what to do next for them to land a coin. We have a huge population who are struggling to afford basic commodities even with the subsidies still in place. The rationale for introducing subsidies was that even the lowest-paid citizen should be able to afford some decent life. The removal of subsidies and the subsequent rise of the cost of electricity and fuel prices will impact ordinary people worse compared to others who bask in enormous wealth. Those who can’t afford basic needs now will be dropped further down the poverty line. Those who could afford just the basics will equally fall a step below in their poverty.
My advice to the President and the government is, DO NOT REMOVE the subsidies before FIXING the economy. The people need to have the power to buy first. We cannot continue raising the cost of living before raising the power of the people. The subsidies do make life bearable even for those without jobs. DO NOT INCREASE THE TARIFFS before increasing the capacity of the people to afford it.
The price is not the problem, the buying power is the problem. Before fixing the price, fix the pockets.