Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Government not doing enough to pacify removal of subsidies

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By Prince Bill M. Kaping’a Political/Social Analyst

The removal of fuel subsidies has obviously elicited a ‘firestorm’ from several sectors of society. Go to the taxi ranks, bus stations, markets, pubs or indeed any other commonplace where ordinary folks are likely to congregate……..people have got no kind words; they’re seething with fury.

“Is this what we voted for? This government has failed, so soon!” you can hear them agree in unison.

Of course this is exactly the sweetest melody PF leaders would want to hear……for it is soothing for their bruised egos. PF leaders are very much aware that fuel hikes were inevitable during their time in government but were not bold and brave enough to trundle on this trajectory for fear of a backlash from the general public. What was of paramount importance to them was blind-folding the masses that all was well as they went on rampage looting our meagre resources through inflated pricing of contracts and, of course other kickbacks!

While it’s quite disturbing to see these same individuals go to town condemning the New Dawn Administration for the removal of subsidies when they’re to blame for the mess we find ourselves in it’s quite comforting and gratifying to hear voices of reason from opposition leaders such as Dr. Richard Silumbe, leader of the Leadership Movement political party.

He writes, “It is normal for fuel to be expensive when you are using fuel tankers to transport fuel by road, travelling thousands of kilometres to reach the destination! Countries like Kenya, Botswana, Zimbabwe, etc. that are enjoying low fuel pump prices don’t use fuel tankers to transport their fuel, but they use fuel pipelines.”

And notable economist, Alexander Nkosi, who many of us have previously considered to be PF sympathizer equally observes that the previous government did not leave fuel prices where they found them but simply deferred the fuel increase without necessarily covering the cost (the differential between the price it was being bought and sold to clients), and hence making us end up accumulating a whopping $506.1 million debt stock as at end of September 2021.

He further presents forth the following critical questions: “Do we forego spending more on medicines to fund fuel subsidies? Do we scrap off FISP to fund fuel subsidies? Do we scrap off economic empowerment funds to finance fuel subsidies? We also have to critically look at the following questions: To what extent does the increase in fuel prices affect citizens from different social economic clusters? To what extent does this increase in fuel prices negatively impact on cost of production? To what extent does it impact on cost of living? If we borrow to keep subsidies, how does this impact on our already bad debt position and how do lenders view this as we step up debt restructuring negotiations?”

He concludes by stating thus, “These are very tough questions that require deep analysis and not emotional reactions and motivational speeches. My position is that let us allow fuel to be cost reflective, work on addressing procurement inefficiencies once current contracts expire and work on strengthening and stabilising our currency so as to positively impact on fuel prices in the medium term. The more we postpone taking a painful decision on this, the bigger the problem grows.”

Thus said and done, it would only take one with fragile mental faculties to claim this government doesn’t care about ordinary citizens.

While the removal of subsidies may be a necessary evil as Nkosi has adequately elucidated, government on the other hand has done a shambolic job effectively communicating this to the masses!

Where’s the Minister of Information and Media who doubles as chief government spokesperson? The madam has lamentably failed to come out in the open and put things into a better perspective as much as possible.

In this era of social media where lies or half-truths can easily filter through to people’s handsets and taken as gospel truth by the unsuspecting citizens, we expect a Minister of Information to be ever alert, better still adopt ‘a fire brigade approach’ to every situation always eager to face the media and put off the fires before the inferno spreads any farther and consumes everything in its wake as is the case with removal of fuel subsidies.

With due respect, we don’t think Minister Kasanda has the stamina to withstand belligerent politics of the likes of Sean Tembo and Chishimba Kambwili who are keen to accrue political mileage out of every situation. The sooner she is redeployed to another ministry, the better for this government.

And what about her counterparts at Ministries of Energy and Finance? Are they doing enough to step-out of their comfort zones and explain things in as much as simple terms so as to enable those in Chibolya, Maiteneke, Kapoto and Chipulukusu buy into the idea as it were? If things were earlier explained as clearly as Nkosi has demonstrated in his article, the hullabaloo arising from removal of subsidies would’ve long fizzled out!

8 COMMENTS

  1. So exactly what did you expect? Goverment is you… get there…taxi ranks everywhere and pacify the status. That’s what real cadres do… explain their party’s manifesto and policy.

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  2. Government is on course. Just wear the right lenses, you will see the short, medium and long term goals. The days of being told of more money in our pockets with zero delivery by the PF are gone

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  3. Iwe Prince, they are not doing more in lying again because lies have short legs. You are the same people who made a lot of noise whenever there was an increment on fuel, electricity, etc., but now you are on the ‘right’ side, it’s ok. I don’t know if I am older than you but I will tell you those of us who have been around went through the same promises regarding IMF, tightening our belts before loosening them to enjoy the fruits but hey, as I speak now many are down six feet because of the depression that followed.

    Anyway, maybe BMW has a magic wand we are not aware of.

  4. I guess you are one of those deriving free utilities and daily allowances to write such crap…I’m 65 and only raise K1500 in a month. My neighbour is still waiting for their money from FRA, and we must all gear up for medical bills, “free education bills”,- uniforms, books and the like! Our grand children have no idea of a treat…and try as we may to make life meaningful, we must “cerebrate” at what is going on. May I remind you; happiness and good living is not meant for the likes of you only…we too must have it! Right now and not when you want!

  5. QUOTE:Thus said and done, it would only take one with fragile mental faculties to claim this government doesn’t care about ordinary citizens. END OF QUOTE:
    I think its you with a fragile mental faculty. Do not insult the intelligence of the common ,poor person. The issue here is that people have realized this is not the Govt to take them out of your so called ‘doldrums” They lack the capacity. Let them just do their part as we wait for the next Govt in 2026.

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  6. The Prince has missed the point. It’s about the integrity of UPND. They are dishonest, they lied their way into government.

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