Vocal consumer rights activist and executive director for Consumers Association of Malawi (CAMA), John Kapito, has condemned the increase of petrol, diesel, paraffin and liquid petroleum gas prices–describing the development as a sad moment for consumers.
Kapito said this in his immediate reaction to new prices for petroleum products announced Wednesday evening by Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (MERA) in the Capital, Lilongwe, at a news conference.
The consumer activist actually attended the news conference in person.
MERA has attributed the increase to fuel landing costs and the depreciation of the Kwacha by 3.37 percent since May this year.
The increase comes after MERA last conducted a review of the fuel prices in May–which was actually a downward adjustment of the prices and led to celebration among citizens.
MERA Consumer Affairs and Public Relations Manager, Fitina Khonje, told reporters that the new prices are with effect from Wednesday midnight.
“Petrol has been increased from K690. 50 to K834. 60 representing 20.87 percent, diesel has been increased from K664. 80 to K826. 40 representing 24.31 percent and paraffin from K441. 70 to K613. 20 representing 38.83 percent.
“The combination of increased Free On Board (FOB) prices on the international market and the poor performance of the kwacha against the United States Dollar and South African Rand, has made it necessary for us to adjust upward the prices for petroleum products,” she said, citing a statement signed by board chairperson for MERA Leonard Chikadya.
However, Kapito, while agreeing with MERA over the causes of the price increase noticed sometime back, argued that this “exorbitant” increase could have been avoided especially if the regulator reviewed the prices monthly as is required by the law.
“This announcement has delayed for a long time. No wonder, the increase is so huge that it will badly affect consumers. It is quite a sad day.
“Consumers will definitely react for it is expected that this will lead to increases of various goods and products on the market. If MERA had reviewed the fuel prices monthly, starting immediately after June, the increases could have been gradual and not exert too much impact on consumers,” said Kapito.
He further placed the blame on the late reconstitution of the board of MERA, saying the board’s absence for some months–made MERA not able to handle crucial things such as these petroleum products price reviews.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :