GOVERNMENT has wiped away the little gains motorists had begun to enjoy following a recent slash in the price of fuel by raising customs duty.
The price of petrol which had effectively gone down to US$1,32 per litre has gone up to a government controlled price of US$1,44 while that of diesel has gone up to US$1,32 from US$1,20.
The new adjustments are with immediate effect, government said in a statement yesterday.
Motorists began enjoying the benefits of reduction in fuel prices last Wednesday after operators buckled under pressure from government to adjust prices downwards in line with a global markdown in the price of the commodity.
This had seen petrol selling at between US$1,32 and US$1,39 per litre from as high as US$1,51. Diesel was now selling at between US$1,20 and US$1,27 per litre, down from US$1,39.
Since June last year, the price of crude oil has declined by almost 60% on the international market.
The new development appears to show that government, through Energy minister Samuel Undenge and Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa, is working at cross purpose.
Government has with immediate effect increased customs duty on leaded and unleaded petrol to US$0,45 per litre from US$0,35 while that of diesel has been increased to US$0,40 per litre from US$0,30.
Government said it has increased customs duty “to share the benefits arising from the decline in fuel prices, between national programmes and the market, as has been done in other countries”.
“It should be noted that those prices provide a guide as maximum prices and fuel retailers are expected to charge prices lower than the stipulated maximum prices,” government said.