Govt pressured to act on fuel costs

September 21, 2008

, NAIROBI, September 21 – The National Council of NGOs on Sunday compelled the government to force oil companies to drop pump prices.

Council chairman Simeon Kanani asked the government to step in and ensure local pump prices reflected the sustained drop in the price of international crude oil.

Kanani said that the high fuel prices had raised the cost of living as common persons could not afford basic goods, and argued that if the oil companies extended the benefits of lower crude costs to consumers, it would ease the biting inflationary pressure.

“Fuel means a lot in the lives of Kenyans because when it goes up everything goes up, including electricity,” he said, adding: “The government must get out and act on the companies and institutions increase the prices not reflected in the international costs.”

The chairman also called for a Sessional Paper to assists the government in controlling the cost of fuel in the future.

Said Kanani: “Time has come for a Sessional paper to be drawn and reviewed and taken to the Grand Coalition Cabinet for approval… This should help in the control of fuel costs.”

The NGO council boss stated that they would monitor the development in the Kenyan oil sector and threatened to mobilise its membership to push the government to act, if it failed to do so.

Local companies have on many occasions been accused of being quick to arbitrarily adjust the cost of fuel upwards but slow to match falling crude prices.

The government on its part has also ruled out resorting to price control, although the Energy Act gives the minister such powers.

The Energy Regulatory Commission had earlier this month stated that pump prices should be at least Sh8 lower than their current levels – which range from 105 to 109.

Oil prices on the global scene have been dipping for the last one month after soaring to a record high of about 147 dollars per barrel in July. They are now at 102 dollars per barrel.

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