THE recent order by government for all fuel dealers to reduce fuel prices by at least 20 cents by Wednesday following a massive 60% drop in international prices of oil is a welcome development which must be implemented promptly.
Sadly, the directive came albeit late, and one wonders why it took government ages to implement such a measure when other progressive countries had already reduced their oil prices.
We have observed over a long period of time the tendency by local entrepreneurs to keep charging high prices for goods and services even when there has been a reduction of prices in their source markets.
It is unfortunate that the hyper-inflationary environment in which Zimbabwe lived for a long period of time created a tendency to profiteer.
Energy minister Samuel Undenge recently announced the directive for dealers to reduce fuel prices and indicated this should be done not later than Wednesday.
The excuse often given by dealers that they purchased the products in stock before the reduction of prices thus they risked running losses is fictional
Undenge told journalists in Harare that the current fuel prices of around $1,50 per litre was no longer justifiable considering the global market price of oil had reached an all-time low of below $50 per barrel from $120 per barrel last June.
We believe that the latest development will likely bring relief to local motorists who had continued to pay higher fuel prices compared to their counterparts in the region.
It must be pointed out that this stance must be adopted not only in the case of fuel, but other goods and services whose charges remain high on the local market even when the prices would have been reduced significantly on the international market.
There is need to deal with the mindset that has clogged many Zimbabweans who now believe in ridiculous profits which are often unjustifiable.
This complex goes back to the time when the economy went haywire with galloping inflation. But now dealers need to appreciate that things have changed somewhat and we are now in a new financial dispensation marked by dollarisation.
It’s quite unfortunate that because of too much speculation, the US dollar that now dominates local transactions appears to have lost its true value because people are still obsessed with the many digits that characterised the local currency before its demise in 2009.
While we cannot encourage government to re-introduce price controls, there is need for entrepreneurs to be closely monitored so that they do not unfairly charge exorbitant prices that cannot be justified and whatever circumstances.