By Ketty Nyoni
ENERGY minister Zhemu Soda says it is the duty of Parliament to review fuel taxes as a measure to cut its prices.
Speaking in the National Assembly last week, Soda said his ministry does not have powers to reduce fuel taxes.
“My understanding is, it is the Parliament which passes the taxation levels that are implemented by the ministry of Energy in coming up with the price of our fuel.
“If this Parliament now sees it fit to review what they passed through the Finance Act, which is the charging Act, I think they are the ones that are supposed to review the Act which they passed, which we are just implementing,
“Of course it might appear like the fuel prices are being affected or influenced by the taxation levels, but I will still repeat that if Parliament feels that the taxation levels are burdensome, it is Parliament which must review it, all my ministry does after obtaining the movements on the global market through the free on board (FOB) determination is just to implement the Act which this House has passed,” said Soda.
In his address, Soda also attributed the consistent increase in fuel prices in the country to the increase of oil prices on the international market.
“The intervention that the Government has made to ensure security of supply of fuel and also to try to contain prices currently is through blending where we are blending our petrol with unleaded, which we are importing. Given our situation, every time when there is an increase on the global market, we have to bear the brunt because we are importing and the increases that we are currently enduring are occasioned by the firming of oil prices on the international market,” Soda added.
He went further and justified the fuel blending process, which he said had to some extent lessened the cost of fuel in the country.
“Our ethanol costs US$1.10 per litre and when the FOB price is above 50c, the effect of blending is to ultimately reduce the price that will be offered on the market.
“As we speak, the price of petrol has been reduced by 6c which was occasioned by the increase that we affected from the blending mandate of E10 to E15.
“We managed to contain the price by 6c so that the benefit of blending and we still envisage to get up to 20 percent where we think we will be able to ultimately reduce the price of petrol by 8c.
“For those who will ultimately be selling the blended petrol in US dollars, they pay for their ethanol in US dollars and for those that will be covered through the ZWL facilities and ultimately being mandated to sell their blended petrol in local currency, they are also paying for their ethanol in local currency,” Soda said.