—–The Zambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ZACCI) has commended government for removing fuel subsidies, saying its timely, especially that it has been mitigated by the removal of five per cent import duty on petroleum products.
In a statement made available to ZANIS today, ZCCI president, Geoffrey Sakulanda, affirmed that consumption subsidies in any form is not sustainable as it diverts resources from productivity.
Mr Sakulanda said though the increase in fuel will lead to increased cost of living in the long run, the decision was still going to be taken as it is not sustainable for government to subsidise fuel prices at the expense of economic development.
He observed that the state treasury cannot sustain a year -on -year subsidy plan without affecting other development programmes such as education, health, roads, installation of street lights, and effective water development among others.
Mr Sakulanda recommended that the resources generated from the removal of subsidies be considered for major projects such as power generation, road and rail infrastructure.
ZACCI further called on government to identify other economic sectors to which it can extend relief to compensate for the impact caused by fuel price changes.
“We urge government to cushion, in particular the agricultural sector and re-invigorate the rural road development exercise as these areas should not b allowed to be slowed down as a result of this development in fuel,” he said.
Mr Sakulanda further said Zambia is at the cross roads of promoting industrialization, service delivery and creating more jobs, adding that fuel and electricity tariffs cannot be suppressed artificially.
He implored the energy sector to give the nation a clear road map on expected changes with regard to fuel and electricity changes over a period of 5-10 years and state clearly where the gained resources will be channelled to.
Recently, the energy sector has seen upward adjustments in fuel prices resulting from the removal of fuel subsidies and also a proposed revision of electricity tariffs to which stakeholders have expressed mixed feelings.