RBZ to raid service stations
Leonard Ncube in Victoria Falls
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe will soon swoop on fuel dealers who reject coupons.
The apex bank has accused the dealers of sabotaging the economy as well as causing artificial commodity shortages.
Addressing delegates to the Institute of Administration and Commerce annual conference in Victoria Falls yesterday, RBZ Deputy Governor, Dr Kupukile Mlambo said fuel dealers have no justification to reject coupons because they were already paid for.
Dr Mlambo said fuel dealers do not bring any foreign currency to the economy but consume the biggest chunk of reserves provided by Government.
The country has in the past few days experienced an artificial shortage of basic commodities including fuel leading to price hikes as dealers took advantage of the panic buying.
“There were enough stocks of fuel and cooking oil but the problem is that dealers could not cope with demand due to panic buying.
“If there was no panic buying, we wouldn’t have shortages. We have increased fuel allocation from $5 million to $10 million per week but they complained about timeliness. I am disappointed that a lot of them are demanding cash even if motorists are carrying coupons,” said Dr Mlambo.
He said the Central Bank will descend heavily on those dealers rejecting the coupons because Government or companies paid for the coupons to the same dealers.
“The country has a shortage of foreign currency. The challenge is that fuel dealers who consume much of the foreign currency don’t bring any. They must honour that coupon because they have taken your money. We are against it and we will descend on them,” said Dr Mlambo.
He did not specify the kind of action RBZ will take against the fuel dealers or the timelines when the measures will be taken.
In Victoria Falls illegal fuel dealers who smuggle the commodity from Botswana are now selling 5 litres for between $7 and $10 up from $6 taking advantage of the shortage of the commoditity in the resort town.
Dr Mlambo said cooking oil manufacturers have assured Government that they have enough stocks.
He said Government relaxed moratorium on importation of soya beans to address shortages.
Dr Mlambo castigated people who are deliberately causing panic buying through social media.
He said the country needs to deal with panic and black market which thrives out of speculation.
“Our biggest challenge is social media which causes unnecessary speculation. We need to deal with panic as some of it is unfair and creates headaches that are not there,” he said.
Dr Mlambo was referring to social media messages being circulated in the country.
He said the country needs to address foreign currency shortages for it to deal with black market, which he said was thriving at places such as Eastgate Mall and Roadport in Harare as well as Tredgold Building in Bulawayo.
He said while control measures can be the way to go, his personal feeling is use of both law and incentives to regularise the economy so as to get a balanced nostro account.
Meanwhile, Government has taken measures to address fuel shortages on the market by doubling weekly foreign currency allocation for importation from $5 million to $10 million.
It has also facilitated procurement of 20 million litres of fuel by oil companies and is now allowing delivery of fuel at night in Harare.
The National Oil Infrastructure Company (NOIC) is loading fuel 24 hours a day at Msasa and Mabvuku depots until the situation normalises.
These measures were announced by Energy and Power Development Minister Dr Samuel Undenge at a press conference in Harare yesterday.
He said they were working with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and the Environmental Management Agency to address the fuel shortages.
“We have facilitated the procurement of 20 million litres of fuel made available to oil companies to ensure adequate fuel at service stations,” said Dr Undenge.
“We have also increased foreign currency allocations towards fuel procurement to $10 million weekly from the previous range of $5 million and $7,5 million.
“NOIC in the meantime is loading fuel 24 hours a day at Msasa and Mabvuku depots until the situation returns to normal, therefore, we have waived restrictions of fuel delivery in Harare during the night.
“The international fuel traders continue to pump fuel into the inland bonded storage to ensure continued security of fuel supply in the country.”
Dr Undenge urged oil companies to channel all the allocated foreign currency towards importation of fuel.
“Oil companies must also plan their deliveries in good time and quickly alert the authorities of any likely fuel stock-outs,” he said.
“As the situation is being addressed, motorists must not hoard fuel or buy volumes of fuel not intended for immediate use. There is no need to do so.”
Dr Undenge blamed the situation on the market to panic ignited by social media reports.
“This was triggered by social media reports which painted a very negative picture in terms of fuel supply despite several assurances by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe that allocations towards fuel procurement had been increased,” he said.
Minister Undenge urged motorists not to panic as the country was holding over two months supplies of diesel and over a month’s supply of petrol in bond at the NOIC depots.
“Motorists must not be influenced by negative publicity mainly through social media, some of which is simply intended to tarnish the image of the Government,” he said.
Dr Undenge assured the nation that there would be adequate fuel supplies throughout the country.
“I also expect that all stakeholders co-operate and play their part to ensure the success of the measures I have put in place,” he said.
Some fuel dealers had taken advantage of the artificial shortage of fuel to raise prices by a few cents while others were rejecting swipes and Ecocash transactions as they insisted on cash.