Fuel imports consume $474m in four months

HARARE - The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) allocated about $474 million towards the importation of fuel in the first four months of the year, which is way above the $383, 1 million disbursed by the apex bank during the comparative period last year.

Despite the significant jump in foreign currency allocated towards fuel imports, petroleum companies have been unable to meet the demand for the product.

Industry players say the demand for fuel has gone up on the back of industry revival, forcing the central bank to increase the foreign currency allocation from $10 million to $20 million per week, in a bid to ensure there is constant fuel supply.

According to the information released by the RBZ governor John Mangudya, by April last year, government had spent $250, 2 million on diesel alone, while this year the figures have gone up to $310 million.

For petrol, last year, the government had by this time used $132, 9 million, which has also ballooned to $164, 2 million.

The figures were revealed in an RBZ’s Total Merchandise Trade and Fuel Imports Statistics report issued on Monday.

According to the RBZ, negative social media messages have contributed to the increasing demand for basic commodities such as fuel.

“The impact of such negative social media messages to the unsuspecting members of the public is quite damaging. Zimbabweans are very sensitive to negative news, yet others seem to thrive on that for reason best known to themselves.

“Usage of social media to cause panic buying and despondency is therefore not good for our peace loving country. It’s counterproductive,” RBZ said.

This comes after the country has been experiencing a fuel crisis that the central bank attributed to the rising oil prices on the world market and structural challenges in the economy, which has created a shortage in foreign currency.

“The price of fuel rose from $1, 40 per litre to $1, 42 per litre, while the price of diesel increased from $1, 26 per litre to $1, 28 per litre during the week ending 18 May 2018, against the background of rising international oil prices.

“There was a 20 percent increase in demand for petrol and an eight percent increase in the demand for diesel during the first quarter of 2018, compared to the same period last year,” the RBZ said.

The central bank said it has started several initiatives to deal with the structural challenges that the economy has been facing. These include closing the forex gap through putting in place a number of foreign exchange facilities, creating export promotion desks at banks, provision of an export incentive scheme, promotion of Diaspora remittances and ring-fencing forex inflows.

The RBZ further increased the, “Importation of cash to meet the demand for cash. The effect of this is to double-dip from the nostro accounts, such as to import cash from the nostro accounts in order to use the cash locally purchase imported goods such as fuel and cooking oil which would have been funded from the same nostro account”.

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