Malawians home and abroad have praised President Lazarus Chakwera and his administration for effecting a thoughtful hike of fuel prices contrary to earlier fears that the raise would be exorbitant.
Before Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (MERA) announced new fuel prices last night many Malawians were anxious expecting a huge upward adjustment close to K2000 per litre.
However, MERA has kept fuel prices within reach raising petrol prices by only 20 percent from K1,150 to K1,380 while diesel has been upped from K1,120 to K1,470 representing a 31.25 percent upward revision. The price of paraffin is now at K956 from K833 which represents 14.74 hike.
The regulator said the adjustment had been necessitated by the impact of exchange rate movements on the landing cost of petroleum products into the country.
MERA in consultation with the Ministry of Finance resolved to reduce some levies to minimize the resultant pump prices.
Even with the new price adjustments Malawi’s fuel products remain cheaper compared to other economies within the SADC region.
For some months now traders from Mozambique around border areas in Ntcheu and from Tanzania mainly along the Chitipa border have been buy cheap fuel from Malawi in bulk to resell in their respective countries for profit.
It then explains why the recent hike has been welcomed by a majority of Malawians based on the early fears they had.
Leading Sunday newspaper, Nation On Sunday, has called the hike ‘Soft Landing’ as many consumers feared for the worst.
Prior to the adjustment some key stakeholders have been calling on government to hike fuel prices as way of stabilizing the market and discourage hoarding by suppliers.
Members of Parliament, Consumers Association of Malawi (Cama) and economy experts had all ganged up forcing government to raise fuel prices as soon as possible.
The social media space too has been filled with praises for government for being considerate.
One commentator, Derrick Kafumbi, labeled the recent hike as fair enough.
“Malawi government has squeezed itself on levies added on fuel as way of cushioning consumers. Without such an intervention the prices would have gone up to around K1800 per litre.”
Amon Dembo, commenting on MIJ Online Facebook page, noted that those complaining about the hike are doing so with naivety and mere bitterness.
“Some people who hate this government are even failing to see that the hike is not enough and that government has sacrificed a lot. There is no single country in the world where fuel is cheap right now,” he wrote.
His sentiments were concurred by another commentator, Ephuraim Kalitsiro, who advised people not to blame anyone for the fuel hike.
“It will be shameful to see opposition colleagues coming up with some lies on this. Sometimes let us learn to understand the economic issues with an open mind.”
The current rise in fuel prices globally is influenced by recent increases in the barrel of oil on the international market, exacerbated by the war between Russia and Ukraine.
There are also fears that further economic sanctions on Russia by the United States and National Alliance Treaty Organization (NATO) will affect global supply.