The Shadow Minister for Energy and Mineral development, Asinansi Nyakato has called on government to find ways of stabilising fuel prices other than giving ‘unsatisfying excuses’.
At the writing of this, fuel prices have escalated across the country with a litre of petrol now exceeding Shs5000 at most fuel outlets. In Hoima, a litre is said to be going for Shs12000.
The government through the energy ministry recently attributed the current hike in price of petroleum products to the mandatory Covid-19 testing at the Uganda-Kenya boarder points of Busia and Malaba.
“Supply was normal with trucks being cleared as usual and driver were allowed to present negative COVID-19 results from Kenya until January 1, 2022 when a directive was issued requiring all truck drivers to undergo testing at Malaba and Busia entry points. This resulted in a buildup of a queue of trucks as none were entering the country,” the energy ministry said in a statement issued on January 14.
However, In her press statement dated January 17, Nyakato who is also the Woman MP for Hoima Oil City, says the excuse government gave to Ugandans for the hike in fuel prices is ‘lame and embarrassing’.
“To tell the country that it is because of a newly introduced policy for a mandatory Covid testing at Malaba and Busia boarder points which caused buildup of trucks at the boarder hence leading to shortages of petroleum products is a very embarrassing and unacceptable excuse that should be given to Ugandans,” Nyakato noted.
Nyakato added that some government officials and their agents were taking advantage of the Covid tests to exorbitantly charge drivers with an aim of making money in disregard of Ugandans and the economy.
She thus wants government to be held liable for any single poorly considered decision that negatively impacts Ugandans.
The energy ministry has subsequently warned oil companies against charging a litre of fuel above Shs5000, but Nyakato feels the said amount is still high for fuel.
“The assertion by government through the said Minister, that fuel prices should not go beyond Shs5000 is also unacceptable. 5000 for petrol is a very high price that if not tackled will inevitably lead to inflation and subsequently economic crisis.”
With Uganda currently having the highest fuel price in the East African region, Nyakato says, this clearly signifies incompetence and poor planning on the part of Ugandan government.
Minister Nyakato makes recommendations
In her statement, the minister outlined five recommendations which she says government must follow to end the current fuel issue.
Among these, she advised government to reduce the taxes on fuel so as to stabilise the fuel prices to less than Shs4000. This, she says will lead to reduction of prices of other commodities which will stimulate consumption and subsequently increase revenue.
She has also suggested that government speeds up the process of clearing all traders on Uganda’s borders to avoid pile-up of trucks.
Furthermore, she recommended government to re-fill the existing fuel reserves in Jinja to cater for such emergencies with a capacity of at least providing for fuel for a month.
“Government should establish new reserves in case the existing one have limited capacity.”
Nyakato further asked government to put necessary policy or legal frame works to guard against hoarding and unnecessary cheating of Ugandans in situations of scarcity by suppliers and petroleum companies.