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Business wants priority fuel allocations

by Staff reporter
29 Feb 2020 at 07:15hrs | Views
Industrialists and farmers want special treatment in fuel allocations if fuel supplies are not readily available so that they can continue to produce.

They fear that licensing more service stations to sell fuel in foreign currency could lead to greater dollarisation of the economy, reducing their competitiveness.

As they no longer get special treatment for fuel allocations they were spending production hours in queues like any other motorist.

At some fuel stations, they allege, corrupt attendants connive with some customers and sell to them for a kick-back. Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) immediate past president Mr Sifelani Jabangwe said the shortages of fuel have adversely affected production.

"Fuel is the enabler of everything and should be stabilised. From agriculture to mining, everyone heavily depends on fuel.  

"Yes, Government has allowed those with free funds to import fuel and sell it in forex, but this should be a temporary measure."

Mr Jabangwe said selling fuel in forex will only benefit those who accessed it, while the majority who earn the local currency will continue to struggle.

"There should be no segregation in accessing fuel," he said.

"Those who import using their money want to recoup their expenses and they will continue selling in hard currency."  

Mr Jabangwe said selling fuel in forex could lead to the re-dollarisation of the economy, a move the country is not ready to adopt.

"It is very difficult for the economy to re-dollarise," he said. "We do not have enough forex reserves to sustain that because it will mean that one needs hard currency to buy basics like tomatoes.  "The dollarisation of the economy will affect the competitiveness of our local industry."  

Farmers' union representatives want farmers to be given priority fuel allocations. They said maize farmers required at least 100 litres of diesel for each hectare from land preparations up to harvesting, while tobacco farmers require about 200 litres a hectare.

Federation of Farmers' Unions president Mr Wonder Chabikwa said agriculture produced 60 percent of the raw materials needed by the manufacturing sector and should be prioritised in fuel allocations. "Everyone is in agreement with us that Zimbabwe's economy is driven by the agricultural sector," he said.

"This sector is also among the largest employers in the country from household to commercial levels.

"Sixty percent of the raw materials that power the manufacturing sector come from agriculture. In the past, farmers would get special fuel supplying facilities and would buy it at wholesale price, but now we are being made to queue for long hours just like any other motorist and this is adversely affecting production."  

Mr Chabikwa said his membership had the potential to increase production if they got the necessary support from Government and other stakeholders.

"We should not re-invent the wheel and we should not kill the hen that lays the golden egg," he said.

"Tobacco farmers are the most affected by the prevailing fuel shortages.  "Those with an irrigated crop are now busy harvesting. There is a lot of trailer work involved at this crucial stage and this requires a lot of fuel as tobacco has to be transported from the fields to curing barns and then to the auction floors.

"We have the capacity to improve the production of crops like maize, wheat, soyabeans and all horticultural products and the forex we are using to import some of these products will then be channelled to other essential services like drugs, fuel and power importations."  

Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers' Union president Mr Shadreck Makombe said farmers should be allowed to access fuel directly from the National Oil Infrastructure Company, so that they boost output.

He said it will be a loss for farmers to be forced to buy fuel in foreign currency because the producer price of their products was paid in local currency.  

"Every farming process requires a lot of fuel, especially diesel, but we are not accessing it," said Mr Makombe.

"Thorough investigations should be done at service stations and flush out all unscrupulous elements fuelling the black market. 

"We cannot continue living at the mercy of middlemen who usually get preferential treatment at service stations."

Source - chronicle

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