This recent fuel pump price hike signifies an economic collapse that will further inflict more pain to our people in terms of survival, says UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema.
‘As a result of poor planning and maintenance of ZESCO generation equipment the PF government is currently implementing unprecedented levels of electricity load shedding. This is despite supposedly having injected huge amounts of borrowed Eurobond bond money into ZESCO,’ said HH in a statement.
‘As an alternative measure, Zambians at various levels from domestic to industry have resorted to using alternative electricity sources such as gensets that use fuel for production. These machines use fuel, which the PF has now increased the price of precisely when one would have expected a reduction.
‘This fuel price increase will now mean a further reduction on economic activities as production costs will escalate further. This situation will automatically lead to price increases on all goods and services, causing a further rise to the already very high cost of living.
‘A genuine government that is currently facing bankruptcy and cares for its citizens would have considered taking pay-cuts by President Edgar Lungu himself and his cabinet, ‘ he said.
HH further said President Lungu is currently the only happy Zambian getting double salary as Republican President as well as Defence Minister and at the same time travelling and getting allowances together with the large cabinet that he should have been considering reducing as one cost saving measure, among others.
He said ‘Zambia can do better than the current PF government. There are leaders that care for their shrinking economies, such as newly elected Nigerian President General Buhari who this week cut his salary by 50 percent to demonstrate that he is also tightening his belt having inherited a bankrupt economy.
‘In the face of all these price increases, the only thing that has remained stagnant and frozen are people’s salaries and lack of employment opportunities, especially for the youths.
‘What is even worse is that the sharp fall on the Kwacha that has finally breached the K8 to US$1 due to poor economic performance will put a further strain in an import dependent economy that will affect even small businesses such as cross-border traders.This increase will equally push transportation costs higher at a time farmers are moving their produce to the market as the PF government has so far refused to buy their agricultural produce.
‘This fuel increase, coming at a time the price of oil prices on the international market are coming down, is totally unjustifiable. The price of Brent crude fell sharply last year from US$115 a barrel in June to US$45 a barrel in January (see here http://www.bbc.com/news/
HH said ‘As Zambians, we should now brace ourselves for more job loses due to the ever-shrinking economy. But make no mistake, the same PF government will hoodwink us by reducing fuel next year towards elections purely to solicit for your votes like they did towards the January 20th elections.
‘For motorists, transporters, minibuses, and tax-drivers, it is double tragedy as the PF government have also increased Road Tax licenses thereby making it difficult to operate your vehicles.
‘While we blame those in government for reckless decisions, it is time we as voters also shoulder the blame for electing people who openly confess they have no vision.
‘It is high time we took a deep reflection on our political choices and for once think of the bigger picture and put national interest ahead of our trivial and petty political persuasions based on imaginary boundaries within our country.’