Fuel levy illegal

The fuel levy being charged by the government may be illegal.

This came to light yesterday in parliament when the minister of energy and explained that the levy was being collected by the Energy Regulation Board through a ministerial order that he had authorised, but Member of Parliament for Monze Central Jack Mwiimbu, in citing the law said any levies charged on the public should be approved by parliament and that the levy had not been subjected to any approval by parliament.

He explained that the Minister being a delegated officer could not order a levy to be imposed without being delegated.  He added that taxes and revenues to government were supposed to be processed through the national assembly and could not be levied outside such laws.

“The government should have brought the Act to the house in order to have approval which was not done.”  He said.

In response the Minister said Cap 436 mandated the minister to grant requests by the Board including revenue related ones. He said that there were a number of pieces of legislation and Acts which were being considered to rectify the situation and these would be brought to the house.

But Mr.Mwimbu insisted that in the absence of an Act the current collection was illegal.  The Speaker has meanwhile ordered the Minister of Justice to present a comprehensive statement to the house in order to explain the status of the levy.

Earlier Mazabuka Member of Parliament Gary Nkombo complained that the price of fuel in Zambia was too high and was generally 60 cents higher per litre than in the neighbouring countries.

The government he said might wish to consider closing Indeni Petroleum refinery and in the process remove the 25% import levy on oil, in order to reduce prices.

Meanwhile Members of Parliament yesterday expressed their concern over the petrol depot established in the industrial area of Lusaka warning that it was a danger to the area but the Minister of Energy insisted that prior safety consultation undertaken by government showed that tanks were safe.