MAHIKENG, SOUTH AFRICA, March 6– Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan says government is aware of the pressures the fuel price increase is putting on consumers as the increase came into effect on Wednesday.
Speaking in Mahikeng in North West Province where he accompanied President Jacob Zuma on the campaign trail, Gordhan said the fuel price increase was inevitable. “At the moment there is not much that we can do than tighten our belts and try to cope with this environment, and hope that there is stability in the world economy.”
The weak performance of the Rand is one of the factors influencing the latest hike and the country is paying more for its oil imports. The government says it is mindful of the pressures that this will put on South Africans.
South Africa is a victim of slow global economic conditions. As usual, consumers will bear the brunt of the fuel price hike, as it hits deep into their pockets. The price of all grades of petrol rose by 36 cents a litre this week. Diesel now costs between 27 cents and 28 cents more.
The Department of Energy says the increases are due to a higher oil price and a weaker Rand exchange rate. Two litres of petrol now cost close to R30 (about 2.78 US dollars). This means motorists will have to dig deeper into their pockets to fill an average car with a 40-litre tank.
This year’s Budget speech also took into account external factors influencing the petrol price. Gordhan says for the new year they have kept fuel levies as low as possible just around inflation, so that they can cover enough from the fuel levy. However, the message to South Africans is tighten your belt, drive carefully and conserve petrol.
Meanwhile, Northern Cape Province farmers say the increasing costs of fuel is having a negative impact on their business. An official of the Agri Northern Cape farmers group, Nico Jansen, says farmers will have to come up with innovative ways to try and save costs, like cutting down on unproductive expenses in order for their farming businesses to stay afloat.