Top Energy Regulation Board (ERB) officials have argued that the planned fuel price increase would eventually benefit Zambians, but they’ve been unable to clearly articulate how when oil prices on the international market have fallen to levels not seen since 2004, surpassing the lows seen during the recession of 2008 (Daily Nation, December 26, 2015).
They have made economic arguments that have been abstract at best and mind-boggling at worst.
However, Zambian consumers just cannot afford to remain aloof from the rest of the world on the pretext that all was well with ERB’s planned fuel price hikes while other fuel consumers in many countries of the world were enjoying the spectre of plummeting oil prices.
We are either part of a fast changing world or remain isolated in our fuel price-hike cocoons and continue to trail the rest of the world in both social and economic development.
It is obvious that ERB’s planned price increase, the abruptness of it, the murky justifications for it, the board’s inability to properly take into account prevailing low oil prices on the international market, the destructive consequences it will have for millions in a country where the majority struggle to put a decent meal on the table, will only further calcify the cynicism of a people who are already very cynical.
For the moment, though, Zambian consumers are between a rock and a hard place – between ERB’s top honchos seemingly oblivious to international plummeting oil prices and a myriad of multinational oil marketing companies (OMC’s) seemingly entrenched in the status quo of Zambia’s high fuel prices locally.