Oliver Kazunga, Senior Business Reporter
ENERGY and Power Development Minister Dr Joram Gumbo says the selling of fuel in foreign currency by some dealers is not Government policy.
Some licensed service stations have been reportedly selling fuel in foreign currency only. Speaking by telephone from Harare last Friday, he said:
“It’s not Government policy that fuel dealers should sell their fuel in foreign currency. So far there hasn’t been any pronouncement by the Government that there is now a change of that policy.
“At the moment, some are selling fuel in forex but at what rate?”
Dr Gumbo said the Government has unequivocally stated that the exchange rate between the US dollar and the bond notes remains at 1:1.
“But this is not exactly what is happening in the market. Some people are selling fuel at $3,50 a litre while some at $5, and the question is at whose exchange rate are they using?” he said.
In an e-mailed response to Business Chronicle, the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority acting chief executive officer Mr Eddington Mazambani said the Central Bank has approved a basket of currencies , of which the United States dollar and South African rand were the most widely accepted.
“In that context, licensed petroleum retailers are allowed to charge fuel in forex at the approved Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe exchange rate. It is illegal, however, to refuse to accept RTGS (Real Time Gross Settlement) and bond currency as a payment method.
“The public is encouraged to report any cases of retailers who are not accepting RTGS or bond payments for fuel to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) who will in turn take the necessary measures to address the matter,” he said.
Dr Gumbo is on record saying that Zimbabwe’s fuel requirements have increased with the country now using about 4,1 million litres of diesel per day and 3,8 million litres of petrol. This was on the back of the onset of the agricultural season as farmers need a lot of fuel as well as improved mining operations by artisanal and small-scale miners who use a lot of diesel in their activities.
“In light of the country’s fuel requirements, it is the responsibility of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to allocate foreign currency for fuel imports. And Mangudya (RBZ Governor) is on record saying the country has been using $20 million per week importing fuel and the allocation now needs to be increased to between $32 million and $35 million a week.
“So, it is them who should avail and allocate the foreign currency. My ministry only facilitates to make facilities for fuel to be provided into the country then it is bought from the storage tanks at Msasa using forex,” he said.
Dr Gumbo said the only lasting solution to the prevailing fuel supply situation, which has caused the resurfacing of fuel queues at the filling stations across the country, was for foreign currency to be made available to import the commodity.
He insisted that the country has enough fuel stocks at its Msasa depot in Harare and that what was only needed was forex to pump it. Asked about suggestions from the public to allow private dealers to import fuel, Dr Gumbo said:
“We are all Zimbabweans regardless of one’s political affiliation, religion, tribe and what not. So, we are only the leadership for our about 14 million to 15 million people and the President has said ‘he is a listening President’ and thus suggestions are welcome.”
He said he would take the suggestions from the public to Cabinet for a decision to be made in the interest of Zimbabweans.