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Gov’t fronts electric alternatives as solution to costly fuel

The Minister of State for Energy, Hon. Sidronius Okaasai, has maintained government’s stance against subsidising pump prices, instead fronting what he termed as e-mobility to permanently resolve rising fuel prices.

Hon. Okaasai was responding to a report on stabilisation of fuel prices presented by MP Robert Ssekitoleeko (NUP, Bamunanika County) on behalf of the Committee on Government Assurances and Implementation during the Wednesday, 04 October 2023 plenary sitting.

In the report, government was faulted for its failure to stabilise fuel prices, noting it has forced Ugandans to “continue to endure high pump prices.”

“Let us not look into subsidies; it has taken them [countries that introduced it] into a deep hole; let us manage supply to prevent hoarding,” said Hon Okaasai.

He said going electric through products made by the Kiira Motors Corporation will solve the fossil fuel price instability.

“We are looking into e-mobility to reduce reliance on fossil fuel consumption, like the electric buses developed by Kiira; we are carrying out a study on how we shall put charging stations…we have to establish a robust system on charging not only in the city center but across the country; this blends well with our electrification strategy,” he added.

On the fuel reserves, the minister said the current stock would last the country only three days, and with additional reliance on private sector reserves, 10 days.  

Contingency plans to have government reserves capable of lasting 10 days are thwarted by the finance ministry’s failure to release US$30 million to raise the capacity of the reserves.

“On the reserves, we budgeted for US$30 million which was approved by Cabinet, but the money was not provided; we do not have the reserves that we desire as a ministry,” revealed the minister.

Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, Hon. Mathias Mpuuga, criticised the hands-off approach by government, and the consistent attribution of the current prices fluctuation to external factors.

“Petroleum products are a security matter for the country; if you are a government, you wake up and you have no reserves, you are in trouble; even the United States, the high priest of capitalism interferes in key strategic sectors to ensure that the economy’s equilibrium is managed,” he said.

“There are global interventions in what we plan, but unfortunately, we do not have a global government, we only have the Government of Uganda; when a government surrenders sovereignty to global forces, that government is on the verge of disappearance,” he added.

Minister Okaasai added that government intentionally licenses many small stations to skirt around the monopoly of two multinational energy giants currently dominant in the market.

MP Dononzio Kahonda Mugabe (NRM, Ruhinda South County) was upset by government’s blaming of international factors only for the rising cost of fuel.

“I find the minister’s statement wanting; other than international factors, he has not given us local factors that have led to the increase in prices,” he said, concurring with Hon. Andrew Ojok (NRM, Omoro County), who said taxes on petroleum products should be revised downwards.

MP Milton Muwuma (NRM, Kigulu County South) said the prices fluctuation is a work of cartels.

“You cannot say we cannot do much as government; help us by addressing the issue of what goes on in the fuel industry; you have left us in the hands of cartels,” he said.

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