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Fuel price increase not our agenda, says Nalumango

VICE-PRESIDENT Mutale Nalumango says it is not government’s agenda to increase fuel prices.

During the Vice-President’s Question Time in Parliament yesterday, Chama South PF member of parliament Davison Mung’andu asked why the UPND government was intending to increase fuel prices after promising not to do so during campaigns.

“Your Honour, the Vice-President, during campaigns, even before campaigns, our Republican President, His Excellency Mr Hakainde Hichilema, had on several occasions given us tabulations of how he’s going to reduce fuel [prices] by more than 80 per cent,” said Mung’andu. “He could give us the storage fees by Indeni, the transportation and everything. Now we have heard that the same fuel [price] is likely to be increased, electricity is likely to be increased. Your Honour, is it one of the conditions that you are receiving from IMF that these things are now being increased against your campaign promises? Why should we Zambians continue trusting you?”

In response, Vice-President Nalumango said despite the processes, the government’s intention was to ultimately bring down the price of fuel.

“Sometimes to go down you need to go up a bit, that is a general statement. But when people are talking of the processes it doesn’t necessarily mean increasing. I’ll not give a very conclusive answer here, and it is my hope that we will come with a more comprehensive statement of how we are going to handle the fuel issue,” she said. “There are many things that could be done. The fact is, the increase is not our agenda. The agenda for Zambia is [for fuel prices to] go down. There are many things that have been happening in the fuel industry that will have to be looked at. The concern of government, your government, spending so much. [Spending so much] should be a concern to all of you, particularly some of you who have been in government. You know how you want to distribute the resources to the people.”

She said although the government had spoken about it, it was not an indication that it would be done immediately.

Vice-President Nalumango emphasised that the government was determined to reduce the cost of fuel.

“But the fact that government comes out is not an immediate indication of an increase. It will take a bit of time for us to stabilise because we have moved a long time on this line of thought and understanding that fuel must pass through this and that, and that. I am sure the statement will make it better, but I’ll not stand here and say it will not be increased, it will not go down,” said Vice-President Nalumango. “But what is our intention? The intention is to bring it down, except the processes. Sometimes the route can seem to take you the wrong style, but at the end of the day, honourable member for Chama South, we must come down. It is doable. I think we used to explain how many invisible middlemen are in this. If they could be found…this is as clear as I can get, Madam Speaker.”

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