Consumers Association of Malawi (Cama) has asked the government to temporarily remove all levies on fuel to cushion citizens from economic hardships perpetuated by the recent increase in prices of petroleum products.
On Wednesday last week, the Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (Mera) announced an average 34 percent increase in fuel prices.
Currently, petrol is being sold at K1,999 per litre for petrol while diesel is at K1,920 per litre.
The energy regulator cited increase in landed costs due to increased Free On Board prices as the justification for the increase.
However, in a letter addressed to President Lazarus Chakwera signed by its executive director John Kapito, Cama has called for immediate and realistic austerity measures.
“We can no longer afford to pay for a large Cabinet of ministers that add no value to Malawians and we can no longer afford to pay a large and bloated civil service through our taxes. Mr President, these high levies and taxes are hurting consumers and that is why we are appealing to you politely to temporarily remove these taxes on fuel,” the letter reads.
During a recent press briefing in Lilongwe, Mera Chief Executive Officer Henry Kachaje said there are very few levies that the authority can remove backed by its mandate.
He added that most levies are embedded in energy laws which means that, if they were to be removed, there will be a need to change the law through parliament.
“If we are to remove levies, it has to go through parliament but at the same time we have to balance because some levies such as the road levy are also helpful to fuel consumers because good roads are important for their cars,” Kachaje said.
Both Secretary to the Office of the President and Cabinet Colleen Zamba and Presidential Press Secretary Anthony Kasunda could not pick our calls for a comment before we went to press.
Recent figures from the Employers Consultative Association of Malawi indicate that the cost of living for a family of six, in an urban setting, moderately increased by 0.95 percent to K349,865 in May from K346,580 in April.
However, the May cost of living has increased by 50 percent when compared to the K233,235 recorded in May last year.
On the other hand, National Statistical Office recorded inflation at 19.1 percent in May 2022, the highest since November 2016.
The developments have prompted experts to predict a rise in the policy rate to hit 20 percent in the near future.
Justin Mkweu is a fast growing reporter who currently works with Times Group on the business desk.
He is however flexible as he also writes about current affairs and national issues.