Govt cuts fuel taxes to tame pump prices

The government has reduced import duty on petroleum products by over 50 percent to enable fuel importers in Rwanda keep the pump prices down amidst the current increase of fuel prices in Kenya.
Commerce Minister Monique Nsanzabaganwa.
Commerce Minister Monique Nsanzabaganwa.

The government has reduced import duty on petroleum products by over 50 percent to enable fuel importers in Rwanda keep the pump prices down amidst the current increase of fuel prices in Kenya.

This was announced yesterday by the Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry Monique Nsanzabaganwa at a press conference.

Nsanzabaganwa told journalists at her offices that government had to give up some revenue to maintain fuel prices at the current Rwf 756 per litre at pumping stations.

She said that this month’s import duty was subsidised at between 51 and 68 percent for petrol and between 67 and 78 per cent for diesel. The reductions depend on the importers’ loading points in Kenya.

“The recent three months have experienced a substantial reduction in the international prices of petroleum products. However, this reduction has taken long to materialize in all loading points in Kenya,” reads a report by the ministry’s officials who were sent to Kenya to assess the situation of fuel shortages at loading stations.

The report was used by the ministry to start negotiations with fuel importers who wanted to increase prices in the country to cope with the rising fuel prices in Kenya.

Sources in the ministry told The New Times on Tuesday that government had cut taxes fuel imports following negotiations with dealers but they could not specify up to what level the reductions had been made.

“The dealers were complaining but we didn’t want to believe in what they were saying without doing our own investigations,” Nsanzabaganwa said of the ministry’s mission to Kenya that recommended government to consider the suppliers’ complaints.

The mission found that fuel products were scarce at loading stations in Kenya due to ongoing works of upgrading Mombasa-Nairobi oil pipeline and importers’ trucks from regional countries including Rwanda were lining up for many weeks to be charged.

The team also discovered that fuel prices in Kenya had increased due to loading complications from the port to the loading points despite the general decrease in petroleum products on the world market.

Fuel importers in the country seem to have welcomed government’s new decision to maintain current prices by reducing their import duty.

Most of them have already sent their trucks in bigger numbers to load the product from Kenya contrary to last week’s situation where they had reluctance in unmatchable prices in the two countries.

“We appreciated the decision and we are happy because it came from our mutual discussions with government,” said one of them who could only be identified as Nduwimana.

Nsanzabaganwa assured Rwandans that there would be no fuel shortage at least throughout this month and the first week of the New Year because importers’ trucks will have supplied up to 6,000,000 litres of petrol by the end of next week.

The country consumes 200,000 litres per day. As long term measures, the ministry’s envoys to Kenya recommended that the government asks Kenya to allocate more fuel for export to Rwanda and start using Tanzanian ports to import the product.

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