Malawi's President Lazarus Chakwera supports the independence and professionalism of the Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (Mera), the statutory institution mandated to determine fuel pricing in the country.
Speaking during the State House brief, Director of Communications Sean Kampondeni clarified that the President does not influence the operations of the regulator as it is a professional and independent body.
He stated that when Mera decided to delay fuel price rises by suspending certain levies, it was done independently in service of the public and that when it noted that it could no longer do that and needed to reinstate the levies and increase them, all these decisions were done independently.
Kampondeni said the increment was inevitable and a necessary undertaking in meeting some of its obligations.
“The President doesn’t influence these matters but the President does get briefed on the rationale that has gone into this fuel increase and so the President has been fully briefed and he is supportive of MERA to continue operating in a manner that is independent and that is professional.
“For your information, the President would want you to know that he knows that MERA does not do these things to inflict pain, they actually do these things to make corrections within the economic infrastructure of Malawi.
“He is of the understanding that this price hike was inevitable, and it was necessary in order to make corrections in the balance sheet of Malawi because there are certain obligations that the debts that we have to continue servicing or paying off and so the President supports MERA to execute its mandate professionally independently without political interference and the President does not look kindly on anyone who want to politicize MERA,” he enthused.
The Communications Director acknowledged the increment as significant as it will cause stress to many people in the country.
He nonetheless indicated that President Chakwera identifies with the pain the increase in fuel prices will have on people in the country as it is a strategic product that affects many aspects of life.
Kampondeni pointed out that the nation needs to understand that the current economy is a battered one and the Tonse administration is working round the clock to fix it.
“He feels it personally; he knows that an increase of this margin is not a small matter it is a painful thing, it is distressing to Malawians across the board, the President knows this, the President identifies with this pain.
“He understands for example that it affects those of you that in the private sector, those of you that run your own businesses for you to move your goods from one part of the country to another, involves fuel consumption and if this commodity goes up in price even by 10 percent, 20 percent, much less 27 percent it affects your operations significantly and accommodating this kind of increase is a painful adjustment.”
Over the past months, the regulator removed several levies and costs attached to fuel in order to delay the hike.
On Saturday night, motorists queued up at service stations following the announcement of an impending hike in fuel which was to be effected on Sunday.
Petrol is now selling at K1,150 from K899.20 a 27.89 percent increment while diesel is now K1,120 from K898 an upward percentage of 24.72 percent.