Govt can’t keep up with corruption around fuel – Finance minister

The government is failing to keep up with corruption around the sale of fuel, as it is struggling to regulate traders, Finance and Economic Development Minister, Professor Mthuli Ncube has said.

Some fuel stations refuse to sell blend in local Zimbabwean dollars opting to charge in forex.

According to the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority, the maximum pump price for a litre of diesel is now ZWL$ 111.77 from ZWL$ 110.41 and the price in USD remains unchanged at USD$1.32.

The capped price of petrol per litre is now ZWL$ 112.96 from ZWL$ 109.17 and USD$1.34 from USD$1.30.

Consumers have, however, raised concerns that there are less than a handful of fuel stations, which sell fuel in local currency and of those who do, they only serve few vehicles then claim the product is finished.

The finance minister acknowledged there are ‘regulatory leakages’ on monitoring the sale of fuel sold in the Zimbabwean dollar but remained optimistic the government would solve the challenge.

“I promise you that there’ll be ZimDollar fuel. Frankly it’s true that as regulators, we have been struggling with this issue. Ah, people are very quick, they cut corners and so forth.”

Finance and Economic Development Minister, Professor Mthuli Ncube.

Prof Ncube claimed fuel traders had become crafty to the extent that they came up with underhand methods to cheat both buyers and the government.

“What is supposed to happen is if fuel importers access US dollars on the auction market, they should eventually sell their fuel in domestic currency in Zimbabwe dollars or RTGS. That is what must actually happen. But we’re aware that it is not happening,” he said.

The finance minister Ncube highlighted that some traders even devised ways on how to evade paying tax in forex even though they sold fuel in forex.

 “Such that they end up paying their taxes in Zimbabwe dollars while they sell their fuel in US dollars. So there are two crimes or two offences they’re committing – the tax one, as well as the price of the fuel. We have become aware of this, we are dealing with it. But as you know, as regulators we can’t say this is done and finished. You have to keep going, just to make sure that we can we can enforce laws,” he said.

However, Prof Ncube expressed delight there were no long fuel queues of late, saying that was an indicator the Zimbabwean economy was performing better than before.

“I think you’ll agree with me, the queues for fuel are gone. Don’t you think that’s a good thing? Fuel queues were such an eyesore that you could even measure how reforms were doing by the lengths of fuel queues. There was a time when we’re doing that,” he said, noting that absence of fuel queues meant the government was doing “something right”

“And that right thing has been allowing a commodity that is bought in US dollars to be also sold in US dollars. So that part, we got right.”

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