FILE PHOTO: A woman walks past a "No Petrol" sign at a fuel station in Harare
HARAR – Zimbabwe, which is facing fuel shortages due to a shortage of foreign currency, is now allowing big companies and farmers with free funds to import their own fuel. 

The government hopes this will ease current shortages in the economy. "Cabinet has given a green light to large companies such as those in the mining sector to use their funds to import fuel for their use," Minister of Information Monica Mutsvangwa was quoted as saying by the Herald newspaper on Wednesday. 

Energy Minister Joram Gumbo said that except for farmers, other individuals will not be allowed to import fuel on their own. Zimbabwe has seen a steep rise in fuel consumption over the past year, with diesel consumption shooting from 2 million litres per day in January 2018 to 4.8 million litres per day in December 2018. 

During the same period, petrol consumption rose from 1.6 million litres a day to 3 million litres, according to Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority. The increased fuel consumption has put pressure on the country's depleted foreign currency reserves, resulting in supply gaps being experienced in the market. 

On Monday, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor John Mangudya told parliament that the central bank last year acquired 985 million U.S. dollars in loans from African banks and lenders for the purchase of critical imports such as fuel. 

XINHUA