Leader of Opposition Kondwani Nankhumwa has demanded the Lazarus Chakwera administration to reverse the fuel price hike saying Malawians are suffering.
Nankhumwa has said this today in a statement on the fuel price increase which the Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (MERA) announced on December 16.
Nankhumwa argues in the statement that the government should consider the suffering of Malawians when making decisions that have far-reaching economic consequences on the lives of common Malawians.
“I, therefore, wish to request His Excellency President Dr Lazarus Chakwera to immediately intervene in this matter so that the government reverses its decision on the fuel price hike.
“The government can consider revising upwards the fuel pump price in future when economic variables have stabilized,” he said.
MERA’s announcement show that Petrol price has now gone up by 20.87%, from K690.50 to K834.60 per litre; diesel has been raised by 24.31% from K664.80 to K826.40 per litre, and paraffin has been raised by 38.83% from K441.70 to K613.20 per litre.
Nankhumwa said he has observed that the government’s decision to increase fuel pump price is unpopular across the country.
He added that the government’s attribution of its decision to the weakening of the Kwacha against major foreign currencies is hugely contestable considering that from May to December this year the Malawi Kwacha has only depreciated by 3.37 against the US Dollar.
“The government should have come up with a better explanation to justify why it has exorbitantly raised fuel prices with such percentages when the depreciation of the Kwacha was only just paltry,” said Nankhumwa.
He also wondered how the price increase is coming about when Malawi’s neighbouring countries within the SADC region such as Tanzania and Namibia have been revising down their fuel prices this month citing moderate fluctuations in the prices of petrol and diesel across the international oil market.
According to Nankhumwa, the global fuel price drifting trend should also have reflected in the prices of fuel products in Malawi and be able to absorb any pressures on the price stabilization fund.
He then described the adjustment as ill-timed and not particularly justifiable considering that many Malawians are already going through untold suffering in their daily lives.
He said the government should have pended this decision to allow Malawians first to recover from the hardships that have come about as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Indeed, COVID-19 has disrupted the global economic space, including throwing a lot of Malawian businesses underground owing to the ebbing demand for various products.
“It is a painful reality that people are literally living from hand to mouth; they cannot save and they cannot invest, consequently falling into the poverty cycle. Malawians are already going through tough economic times. Indeed, this should not have been the time to exert more suffering on them through decisions like the fuel pump price adjustment,” he said.