Leonard Ncube, Victoria Falls Reporter
THE Government has assured members of the public that the fuel situation in the country will improve starting from today after the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe allocated foreign currency to some indigenous service stations to import fuel.
This comes at a time when the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (Zera) is crafting some regulations to allow dealers who have access to foreign currency to import fuel and ease pressure from the Central Bank.
The country has been experiencing fuel shortages lately which saw commuter bus operators countrywide hiking fares and leaving commuters stranded.
Zera acting chief executive officer, Mr Eddington Mazambani yesterday told journalists on the sidelines of the ongoing conference of the Regional Energy Regulatory Association of Southern Africa (Rera) that the Reserve Bank had allocated foreign currency to some indigenous fuel dealers.
“What I know is that there are constraints with regards to logistical arrangements and funding which have now been addressed through the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and we are made to believe that the situation will improve starting from tomorrow.
“There have been allocations to some indigenous fuel companies and we expect this to improve the availability of fuel as these companies complement big oil companies,” he said.
Mr Mazambani could not be drawn into naming the selected indigenous suppliers but said Zera will soon name outlets that are allowed to import and sell fuel in foreign currency.
“We are confident that the situation will improve because the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe is tasked to ensure that we have such facilities for fuel. The RBZ Governor Dr John Mangudya announced in his recent Monetary Policy Statement that people with access to foreign currency are allowed to import fuel directly on their own for sale to those who have foreign currency at a small cost,” he said.
Mr Mazambani said Zera was crafting regulations to ensure that the arrangement comes into effect.
“Very soon we will be publishing a list of outlets that are allowed to sell in foreign currency and that on its own will relieve pressure on the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe which will then cater for the general public which doesn’t have access to foreign currency,” said Mr Mazambani.
He said he would not pre-empt the criteria used to select outlets that are allowed to sell in foreign currency until consultations on the regulations are finalised.
In an interview, Energy and Power Development Minister Engineer Fortune Chasi said the country’s fuel challenges are a result of foreign currency.
He said fuel stations allowed to sell in foreign currency are those that serve the diplomatic community who have foreign currency at their disposal.
“The genesis of our shortages is heavily linked to foreign currency challenges. So, until such a time we have sufficient foreign currency it makes sense to say we will have some shortages of some level which is consistent with the foreign currency shortages.
“However, we have a very clear vision as a country and we will come to a time when we have plentiful supply,” said Eng Chasi.
He said there are a number of issues the country needs to address even at consumer level and the entire energy supply chain, among them cost of energy, what is happening at international level and the capacity of the financial sector to enable the country to import enough fuel. — @ncubeleon