Govt withdraws errant service stations’ licences

Government has withdrawn licences for fuel service stations caught trading irregularly, contributing to serious shortages of petrol and diesel that had rocked the market for several weeks, resulting in long and winding queues and panic-buying.

BY Everson Mushava

Addressing a media briefing after yesterday’s Cabinet meeting, Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa also said government was concerned by high prices of goods still on the market and failure by companies to respect the Bank Use Promotion Act, which outlaws a three-tier pricing system.

She also said government had expressed commitment in ensuring that agriculture inputs be priced to affordable levels and in adequate supply, and hoped that the improvement in the supply of fuel and basic commodities, that was in short supply for over a month, would continue.

“Government also observed that the availability of fuel had significantly improved, amid high hopes that the situation would normalise in a few days’ time,” Mutsvangwa said.

“Government has also withdrawn licences of some fuel service stations caught in irregular trade.

Government wishes to reaffirm its commitment in bringing normalcy to the situation as soon as possible.”

She said at least three service stations in Harare had their licences withdrawn after they were found on the wrong side of the law.

Mutsvangwa said government was concerned with high prices, the three-tier pricing system and some companies, especially in the health sector, that were still demanding payment in United States dollars.

She said government was happy that the repeal of Statutory Instrument 122 was beginning to show benefits with an increase in the supply of basic commodities.

Mutsvangwa said the benefits would be more pronounced mid-November.

“Government resolved there is need to vigorously enforce regulations which outlaw the three-tier pricing system and punish those found on the wrong side of the law,” she said.

Government last week threatened to enforce the Bank Use Promotion Act on errant businesses charging a premium on the US dollar, disregarding the official exchange rate of 1:1 on the greenback and the bond note.

Mutsvangwa also said government was committed to engaging captains of industry to create a common partnership in rebuilding the country’s economy.

“Government also agreed on the need to engage seed and fertiliser suppliers in order to guarantee affordability of agricultural inputs especially seed and fertiliser,” she said.

The Information minister said government would support small-to-medium enterprises to ensure they manufactured goods, while work on the local content policy to promote consumption of local goods and ease the demand on foreign currency was also nearing completion.

Government, Mutsvangwa said, would revive its agreements with India to ensure NatPharm produces drugs on credit to ease demand on foreign currency.

She said government would also ensure that the dualisation of the Beitbrdge-Chirundu highway commences soon from funds raised locally.

The dualisation will start by rehabilitating and widening the existing road and dualisation to follow.