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MPs jittery over rising fuel prices

Minister of State for Energy, Mr Simon D’ujanga, is set to appear in Parliament as MPs express concern over the rising fuel prices (FILE PHOTO)

KAMPALA – The minister of state for Energy, Mr Simon D’ujanga, is next Tuesday expected to explain to Parliament the rising fuel prices.

Mr D’ujanga was tasked by Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga following concern by several MPs during plenary on Thursday.

Kyaka South MP Jackson Kafuuzi (NRM)was the first to raise the matter of national importance, explaining the skyrocketing fuel prices do not favour the ordinary Ugandan.

“Last week petrol was going for shs 4100 today it is shs 4420; meaning that probably by Christmas time, it will be shs5,000 and by the end of the year, about shs 6,000,” Mr Kafuuzi said.

“As MPs, it is our role to protect our people; consumer protection should be one of our roles and when we exercise this oversight role we are obliged to inquire whether there is a possibility of racketeering, profiteering by some of these traders who bring fuel,” he added, urging the Speaker to institute a parliamentary inquiry into the matter.

“My prayer is that you order an investigation which goes to the root of the matter as to how these prices are established such that a solution can be found,” said Kafuuzi.

Dokolo South MP Felix Okot-Ogong (NRM) said if the ruling government is caring, it should not sit and watch as fuel prices rise.

“This same thing happened in Kenya, but immediately the government took action; one they reduced the VAT on the fuel but two, they reduced the fees that are put on the fuel,” said Okot-Ogong

“The same thing can be done by our government if it is a caring government,” he emphasized.

The MPs argued that whereas the country operates a free market domestic economic policy, the Parliament is obliged to protect our people from exploitation.

By the close of the year 2017, petrol prices were ranging between sh3,350 and sh3,600 per litre and diesel was ranged between sh3,070 and sh3,100 per litre at most petrol stations in and around Kampala.

Some observers have attributed the rise in the pump prices to the appreciation of the dollar against the shilling.

Although the dollar was relatively up for the last half of 2017, trading at between sh3,610 buying and sh3,640 selling, fuel prices had remained relatively stable.

Others have argued that the rising world oil prices are also to blame for the rising local pump prices. Global crude oil prices, which had dropped to as low as $37 a barrel in December 2015, are now heading towards $80 a barrel. Between 2016 and 2017, world oil prices had never gone above $50 a barrel.

Iran’s oil minister, Bijan Namdar Zanganeh early this year noted that oil prices had gone up because of production cuts and increased demand for petroleum products, especially in Europe, due to cold weather.

Iran is a key member of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC

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