MPs fine CS Munyes Ksh.500,000 for snubbing summon on fuel
The National Assembly Finance Committee has fined Petroleum Cabinet Secretary John Munyes Ksh.500,000 for snubbing summon.
Munyes was to appear before the Committee to answer queries on the high cost of fuel that has thrown Kenyans into higher cost of living amidst tough economic times.
The fine comes just two days ahead of the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA) scheduled review on fuel prices, Thursday.
Mid-last month, fuel prices in Kenya hit a historic high after prices of petrol, diesel and kerosene increased by Ksh.7.58, Ksh.7.94 and Ksh.12.97, respectively.
This saw a litre of the above listed commodities retail at Ksh.134.72, Ksh.115.60, and Ksh.110.82 per litre respectively, in Nairobi.
It was coupled with higher taxes which has accounted for higher cost of living in the country, even as government officials led by Interior CS Dr. Fred Matiangi promising a downward revision of fuel prices expected to be released this Thursday by EPRA.
EPRA is expected to release its review this Thursday, but due to rise in global oil prices, nothing much is going to change at the pump.
This is after oil Price Jumped above Ksh.8,860.04 (US$.80) and natural gas raced higher, turbocharged by supply shortages.
On Friday, global prices of oil rose record high, gaining about four percent on the week, as a global energy crunch boosted U.S. prices to their highest in almost seven years.
Brent crude was up Ksh.165.01 or 1.8 percent, at Ksh.9,192.33 (US$.83.88) a barrel, after hitting its highest since October 2018 at Ksh.9,369.41 (US$.84.60) earlier in the session.
Amidst all these concerns, government officials, spearheaded by Interior CS Dr. Fred Matiangi have promised to revise fuel cost downwards in the next review.
EPRA has already distanced itself from claims that its linked to hiking fuel prices in the country.
According to EPRA, The National Treasury, the Ministry of Energy and Parliament are the state agencies that can influence the price of fuel in the country.
EPRA Director-General Daniel Kiptoo who told National Assembly Committee on Finance and National Planning that the regulator had no powers to reduce fuel prices, since it tabulates the pricing using a formula approved by Parliament and National Treasury.
Kiptoo further said EPRA did not subsidize fuel this month because the National Treasury did not approve use of Fuel Stabilization Fund, which it often taps to cushion consumers.
CS Matiangi also said they are also chasing time to implement President Uhuru Kenyatta’s order to reduce the cost of power by December 31, 2021.
“Work has started now to ensure we reduce the cost of power, We were given 90 days, we have begun that task today. Our bills are too high. Effective now we have suspended any negotiations on any new Power Purchase Agreements” said Matiangi.
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The cost of reduction will be achieved through the reduction of the consumer tariffs from an average of Ksh.24 per kilowatt-hour to Ksh.16.
However, considering the global oil market wave, whether the fuel cost will be reduced or maintained by the state remains to be seen.
Rebellious State officials
Senior government officials have, notably, been known for not heeding calls by legislatures to explain various issues ailing and affecting Kenyan economy, and Munyes incident is not the first one.
On September 24, relationship between the Senate and the Executive worsened after lawmakers fined Energy CS Charles Keter Ksh.500,000 for snubbing their summons.
A day earlier, senators had censured Keter and his Petroleum counterpart John Munyes for ignoring their invites to explain skyrocketing electricity and fuel prices.
Keter had been summoned by the Senate Energy committee to explain the financial status of the cash-strapped Kenya Power but gave it a wide berth.
He was also expected to divulge the circumstances that led to the abrupt resignation of Bernard Ngugi as KPLC managing director, as well as the wrangles pitting staff against directors.
The CS was also to articulate plans by the ministry to reduce the cost of electricity for domestic and commercial consumers.
Instead, Keter sent his PS Joseph Njoroge, stating that he was attending an international conference on atomic energy.
“We would have no intention at all to snub an invitation by the National Assembly and the Senate and we have never done so,” Njoroge told the team.