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Industries headed for tougher times: LCCI

Lesotho's widely read newspaper, published every Thursday and distributed throughout the country and in some parts of South Africa.

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Silence Charumbira

LESOTHO’S industries are headed for tough times after the Petroleum Fund yesterday increased the prices of diesel by a massive M1, 15.

In response to the sharp increase, the Lesotho Chamber of Commerce (LCCI) said Lesotho’s industries were headed for more tumultuous times if the prices were not reduced.

The new prices effected yesterday will see motorists paying M0, 95 cents and M1, 05 less for petrol93 and petrol95 respectively. The new price for petrol93 is now M21, 25 while that of petrol95 is M21, 60.

While those who drive petrol vehicles will be smiling all the way to the filling stations, it will be a different story for those who drive diesel powered vehicles.

This because the pump price for diesel50 has been increased by a staggering M1, 15 per litre to M24, 35.

Users of illuminating paraffin will also have to fork out M0, 40 (M18, 20) more per litre of the commodity.

In a letter addressed to its board of directors on Monday, Petroleum Fund CEO, Thato Mahasoa, said the new prices were with effect from yesterday.

“Please be informed that effective from Wednesday, 5th October 2022, the pump price of petrol93 will be decreased by 95 lisente per litre, petrol95 will be decreased by M1, 05 per litre, the pump price of diesel50 will be increased by M1, 15 per litre and illuminating paraffin will be increased by 40 per litre,” Mr Mahasoa said.

But LCCI secretary general, Fako Hakane, yesterday warned that if the prices for diesel, the major fuel for industries, was not restored to its old state, then local businesses could suffer immensely.

Although the government cannot do much about controlling the prices of fuel since it is landlocked and does not produce any petroleum products, it could at least restore the prices, he said.

“It is going to have a very negative impact on business and the economy but there is little that can be done under the circumstances,” Mr Hakane said.

“We are going to try and convince the government to revert to the old prices of diesel, but we also understand that it is not only Lesotho that has been affected by the fuel price increases. There is the invasion of Ukraine by Russia on one end as well as the negative effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. But we are also alive to the reality that without diesel, industry stops because commerce mainly uses diesel.

“We are in a very unfortunate position as a country that is completely hemmed in by South Africa.”

Unless the war in Ukraine ends and depending on the outcome of the elections, the situation is likely to worsen.

“The situation is going to worsen unless the war ends. Lesotho’s economy is donor driven. The situation is going to get worse depending on what happens in the upcoming election.

“As the LCCI, we can only try to get the government to restore the old prices. The government does not have money and that is not a joke. It owes the private sector lots of money for services rendered. You know that the government will not get the money anytime soon. Lots of businesses have folded because of that and it’s a crisis,” Mr Hakane said.