Legislators task EPRA to explain fuel price s**ke

Wednesday, October 18th, 2023 02:19 | By
Director General Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority Daniel Kiptoo before members of the Public Investments Committee on Commercial and Energy Affairs. PHOTO/Kenna Claude
Director General Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority Daniel Kiptoo before members of the Public Investments Committee on Commercial and Energy Affairs. PHOTO/Kenna Claude

Members of Parliament have raised concerns over the spike in fuel prices and want the government to come up with control measures before it becomes unbearable.

Members of the National Assembly Public Investments Committee on Commercial Affairs and Energy took Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA) Managing Director Daniel Kiptoo to task over the increase of fuel products.

Led by Committee chairperson David Pkosing (Pokot South), the MPs sought to know why the price adjustments were on a constant upward trajectory after every month.

Kiptoo had appeared before the Committee to respond to audit queries noted in the agency’s books FY 2019/2021 and 2020/2021 when questions on the rise in fuel prices arose.

Over the weekend, EPRA announced new prices of fuel with a litre of petrol going up by Sh5.72, Diesel by Sh4.48 and Kerosene retailing at Sh2.45 more, placing the overall costs at an average of Sh217.36, Sh205.47 and Sh204.46, respectively.

Pkosing sought to know why the monthly price changes were on a constantly on an incremental trend to the detriment of the economy. “We are aware that global crude oil prices are coming down across the world market. So how do you explain the constant rise in domestic prices for refined fuel?” asked Pkosing.

Reduction of prices

Rangwe MP Lillian Gogo asked Kiptoo to explain whether Kenyans should expect reduction of prices of fuel anytime soon. “Do you have intention to bring down fuel prices by even a single shilling? Kenyans out here are hurting; businesses are collapsing and petrol stations are closing.”

The issue of fuel agreement between Kenya and Saudi Arabia also arose with members demanding for details since the ministry of Energy has never come out to defend or explain the move which was expected to lower the prices.
“What happened to the so called Government to government agreements on fuel imports. I thought the promise was that through that arrangement fuel prices were to drop?” asked Paul Katana (Kaloleni).

Kiptoo said the fuel prices are calculated on the basis of computation of components which are not within the Agency’s control. He added that recent rise in fuel prices had been occasioned by emergent local and external economic factors including constant depreciation of the Kenyan Shilling against the dollar.

Among the audit queries for which the Committee had invited the EPRA management, were concerns by the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) that agency could have incurred irregular expenditures on a contract for provision of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) compliance inspection services and another for monitoring of Domestic Kerosene in FY 2020/21.

The OAG claimed that EPRA signed a contract for provision of LPG compliance inspection services that resulted in an overpayment of Sh7.3 million in FY2020/2021. The figure is expected to rise considering the remaining 9 months to the end of the two-year contract.
Domestic kerosene
The Auditor General further noted that EPRA had awarded a two-year contract for monitoring of domestic kerosene which had resulted in an unexplained over expenditure of Sh65.3 million in FY2020/21. Kiptoo told the committee that the expenditures were well within the projected Contractual figures.

“The payment towards the contract for monitoring of domestic kerosene as of February 23, 2021 was Sh113.3 million, which was within the estimated full contract amount of Sh181.4 million,” said Kiptoo.
But speaking in Eldoret, Deputy Speaker Gladys Shollei maintained that the prevailing hard economic times facing the country are beyond the control of the Kenya Kwanza-led government. While defending the government over the recent Epra’s decision to increase fuel prices, Shollei exonerated the new administration from blame over the pain, which ordinary citizens are going through.

Shollei, the Uasin Gishu Woman Representative pointed out some of measures President William Ruto has put in place to tame the rising cost of living amidst hue and cry from Kenyans.

“The government has come up with a policy to cut down drastically on importation of some of the products that can be sourced locally like cooking oil as it also increases export of locally manufactured goods to create jobs for our youths,” said Shollei.

The deputy speaker was speaking on Monday during distribution of foodstuff for more than 3,000 learners at Langas Primary School in Kapseret constituency, Uasin Gishu county.

Shollei regretted that a section of the government’s critics were taking advantage of the pain that Kenyans were going through due to the prevailing situation in the country to incite the public against the government

She asked Kenyans to give the new administration time as it embarks on a raft of measures that will ensure that the rising cost of living is brought down as she called on them to tighten their belts.

“Let us just be truthful and honest to Kenyans by telling them that the skyrocketing cost of fuel is beyond the control of the new administration and the MPs.

We just have to be patient as things settle down,” added Shollei. She further expressed concern over depreciation of Kenyan shilling against the dollar; a trend she observed was making it hard for import and export business in the country.

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