NESC seeks stable fuel prices

, NAIROBI, Kenya Nov 20- The National Economic and Social Council is calling for the strengthening of the Energy Regulatory Commission to effectively manage fuel prices in the country.

NESC wants the Ministry of Energy to make regulatory arrangements that would ensure retail prices are kept within reasonable bounds.

Speaking at the conclusion of the 23rd NESC meeting, Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta said it was important to ensure high energy costs do not emerge as a factor to hinder economic growth.

"We want to ensure that unnecessarily high prices occasioned by activities of a few players in the market do not end up hurting our economic growth prospects going forward," Mr Kenyatta said.

The fuel market remains liberalised with the government saying it was powerless in trying to introduce price controls in the sector. 

Mr Kenyatta however specified that they would not be calling for an introduction of price controls, but instead work out a system that protects consumers from exploitation from oil marketers.

"We are a liberalised economy and we appreciate that fact and we think that has brought a lot of benefits to the economy," Mr Kenyatta said.

The NESC has also proposed speedy implementation of the Competition Bill, which it says, could stabilise the prices.

Fuel prices in the country have been on an upward spiral with most oil marketers selling fuel at an average of Sh100 with fears it could touch Sh110 in the coming weeks.

On their part, oil marketers blame the current situation on inefficiency in the petroleum industry for the surge in fuel prices.

The government is also set to boost capacity of National Oil Corporation (NOCK) and accord it more subsidies to expand retail presence.

"It is definitely an area to be looked at (NOCK). We want to make it one of the tools that will help create an open market and create more players and reduce this issue of few players controlling the market," Mr Kenyatta said.

MICHAEL KARANJA :Michael is a Business Reporter. He is a graduate of Daystar Univeristy with a Degree in Communication (Electronic bias) and a minor in Public Relations. He considers himself easy going and loves engaging in sporting activities over the weekends.