Back in 2015, Statutory Instrument 171 was amended to allow members of the public to import up to 2000 litres of fuel per month for personal use. The Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA) has however notified us that the Statutory Instrument (SI) which allowed us to do that has been repealed.
It is quite strange that they would repeal the instrument but let’s look at the notice ZERA gave out first before we try to make sense of this move.
PROHIBITION OF IMPORTATION OF FUEL INTO ZIMBABWE BY THE PUBLIC
The Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA) hereby notifies the public that Statutory Instrument 171 of 2015 Control of Goods (Petroleum Products Prices) (Amendment) (Number 5) that allowed members of the public to import up to 2 000 litres of fuel per month for personal use without a ZERA licence has been repealed through Statutory Instrument 122 of 2017.
After the repeal, importation of all fuel has to be done in terms of the provisions of the Petroleum Act that stipulate that only companies licenced in terms of Section 29 are authorised to import fuel.
Application forms for the procurement of fuel are available on the ZERA website www.zera.co.zw
No reason has been given as to why the SI was repealed.
Given that there hasn’t been any change on the foreign currency shortages front yet, the move does not make sense, at least in that regard.
It was less than a month ago that the Minister of Industry and Commerce Mike Bimha repealed the SI which prevented individuals from importing basic goods. Yes, a few weeks ago the government was imploring individuals to approach the government so that they can import basic commodities at will. Why did the government do that? Minister Bimha said,
because of the limited foreign currency available to local producers we would want to make sure that those with free funds be they individuals or companies they should come forward to obtain the necessary permits and licences to bring products into the market.
I know a lot has happened since around 13 November when he said the above but not much has changed in the foreign currency realm. There is still an acute shortage of the stuff in the economy.
So there’s not enough for the government to allocate to importers of basic commodities but there’s enough to allocate to fuel importers? It’s peculiar don’t you think. It is the same Minister of Industry and Commerce who invited basic goods importers who is now forbidding importation of fuel by the non licensed.
I think we can assume the reasons for the repealing of SI 171 of 2015 have nothing to do with foreign currency now being available to the government. The government still faces a foreign currency shortage. What is it then?
Could it be that those who were importing that fuel were not really using the fuel personally but were rather reselling it? In an effort to protect fuel licensed resellers the government has stepped in.
That people were purchasing fuel in our neighbouring countries at about half the price it is going for in Zimbabwe has been established. It is said that in the border towns especially, due to the lower transportation costs, some people were importing that fuel and selling it at about $1 a litre. Undercutting established fuel peddlers by quite a margin.
So to protect the tax paying fuel juggernauts the government has had to repeal SI 171 altogether. That could be the reason or at least one of the reasons for this odd move. Or it could not.
I don’t know at what scale this kind of illegal fuel business was happening, I’m skeptical but maybe it was at a scale huge enough to warrant such a drastic response.
Could it be that the government wants total control of the importation of fuel? I don’t know man. What I know is that it’s hard to see how the move is a positive one, given the little we know.
What do you think is the reason for the repealing of SI 171 of 2015? Let us know in the comments below.
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