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ERB betrayed Zambians, says NGOCC

The Non-Governmental Organizations’ Coordinating Council (NGOCC) has joined the parade of stakeholders castigating the Energy Regulation Board (ERB)’s approval of ZESCO’s application to hike electricity tariffs by 75 per cent, a hike majority Zambians are strongly opposed to.

NGOCC Board Chairperson Sara Longwe wondered why ERB had decided to approve the application by ZESCO when the majority Zambians were against the hike, which has obvious severe consequences on the local economy.

She said  ERB had betrayed the wish of the poor Zambians by approving the application.

The NGOCC board chairperson questioned why, instead of representing the poor energy consumers, the energy regulating authority decided to side with ZESCO on the matter.

“It is sad that ERB and the so called pro-poor Government of the Patriotic Front (PF) could allow this increment which will rob Zambians of money from their pockets. It is saddening that the Government is fast veering away from its original pro poor policies carefully stipulated in its party manifesto,” wondered Ms. Longwe.

She further observed that the untimely tariff hike would just worsen the poverty the country was wallowing in.

Energy Minister David Mabumba recently justified the tariff hike, saying ZESCO was broke and relying on state subsidies to sustain operations.

“With the increased cost of production, the prices of commodities, including basic household commodities, will go up despite the fact that disposable incomes for most households have remained largely low.

“The increased cost of production will be passed on to the consumers. With an already high living standards in Zambia, this will make the poverty situation in the country even worse – especially for the poor of the poorest, who are women with poverty among women headed households estimated at 62.1% (Living Conditions Monitoring Survey2010).”

She further warned of increased cases of indiscriminate cutting down of trees for charcoal production, a situation she said would frustrate government ‘s efforts on afforestation.

“The high tariffs will worsen the situation by pushing more households to use cheaper and unsustainable sources of energy such as charcoal and firewood, leading to increased deforestation rate across the country, and the increment will further increase Zambia’s vulnerability to climate change,” said Ms. Longwe.

In March of this  year (2017), ZESCO applied to ERB to adjust electricity tariffs for 2017/2018 by 75 per cent, an application which has since  been approved by ERB, following a public hearing which was held at Mulungushi International Conference Center on May 5, 2017.

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