Zimbabwe hikes fuel price again after minister says it's still cheap

File: Demand for fuel in Zimbabwe has risen as businesses resort to more expensive diesel-powered generators.

File: Demand for fuel in Zimbabwe has risen as businesses resort to more expensive diesel-powered generators.

AFP/Aaron Ufumeli

HARARE - Zimbabwe's energy regulator has raised petrol and diesel prices by up to 16 percent, the fourth increase this year.

This after the finance minister said fuel was considerably cheaper than in neighbouring countries.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced the biggest fuel price hike in January -- a 150 percent increase -- which sparked deadly protests by financially struggling Zimbabweans that left more than a dozen people dead after an army clampdown.

READ: Zimbabwe's inflation figures skyrocket

The Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority said late on Friday that effective Saturday, petrol would cost 6.10 Zimbabwe dollars ($0.70) a litre, up from 5.26, while the price of diesel had been increased 13 percent to 5.84 Zimbabwe dollars.

Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube was quoted in a daily newspaper as saying he would be happy if the price of fuel was equivalent to $1 per litre.

READ: Zimbabwe hikes fuel prices again as crisis deepens

While Ncube wants fuel prices to reflect import costs, many Zimbabweans can barely afford to pay them when the unemployment exceeds 80 percent and the entry-level wage for a government employee is about $49 a month -- enough to buy a car tyre.

But with no sign of an end to rolling power cuts in the southern African country, demand for fuel has risen as businesses resort to more expensive diesel-powered generators.

READ: Zimbabwe fuel crisis worsens

Analysts say this is increasing the price of doing business, with companies likely to pass the cost to consumers, who are already grappling with inflation of nearly 100 percent.

There were long queues at service stations selling fuel early on Saturday.

Source
Reuters