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Fuel prices surge in Congo amidst protests and economic struggles

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Republic of the Congo

In the Republic of Congo, diesel prices have risen by 25 percent in October, marking another increase following a hike in January. Similarly, since July, the pump price of gasoline has also surged by 25 percent.

Authorities in Brazzaville attribute the soaring fuel prices to recommendations made by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 2019 under the Extended Credit Facility (ECF), which provided financial assistance to the Republic of Congo, grappling with a severe economic crisis and unsustainable debt (more than 80% of the GDP). Among the IMF-recommended reforms was the removal of fuel subsidies.

However, the Congolese branch of What You Pay coalition (PCQVP) vehemently opposes these fuel price increases.

"We have the right as an oil-producing country to sell petroleum products at lower prices in our nation. Why are we asked to sell these products at the same price as on international markets? Are we not capable of refining petroleum products for our domestic consumption to eliminate the need for subsidies? If we can refine oil for our local use, then subsidies will vanish," saidBrice Mackosso, deputy chairman of PCQVP coalition.

The Congolese government has implemented a series of measures to mitigate the impact of potential inflation, which would be particularly detrimental to the population. However, the Congolese civil society believes that the of addressing this crisis remains the fight against corruption.

_"We believe that the fight against corruption in the oil sector will bring sufficient revenue to the State's budget. We call for the prohibition of petroleum product exports. We urge the government to consider a report from the ITE of Congo and the International ITE Secretariat on fiscal modeling, showing that the Republic of Congo loses about $1 billion annually due to high costs, tax prices, and the threshold of high costs,"_added Brice.

The Congolese government has promised to release a report on the impact of rising fuel prices at the pump, while the population grapples with skyrocketing food prices.

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