THE petrol price has edged towards R12 a litre after a 28 cents a litre increase which took effect at midnight – leaving some motorists
It is the fifth increase this year, during which the fuel price had already soared beyond a record R11 a litre. In January, petrol cost about R10.31 a litre.
Overall, the cost of a litre of petrol is up R1.61 since the beginning of the year. This means it will now cost R593.50 to fill a 50-litre fuel tank.
Economist Mike Schussler said the latest increase would not only add insult to injury for household budgets, but it would be bad for the country’s economic performance as a whole.
“Consider that consumer spending went up by 7.2 percent over the past year. Couple this with the fact that there was only a 2.4 percent growth in the manufacturing industry and that mining output is the lowest in 51 years. It’s clear consumers have been driving the economy of late,” he said.
Trade union Uasa spokesman Andre Venter said the latest increase followed a spike in the rate of unsecured borrowing by ordinary workers and consumers, to fund primarily consumption.
“And it tells a story of consumers who are nearing the end of what they can afford. Already nearly half of borrowers, many owing 75 cents out of the rand, cannot repay their debts and over 6 000 South Africans apply for debt counselling every month,” he said.
Venter said consumers faced further hardship when Eskom clients have to pay 16.9 percent more for electricity this month, with municipal electricity consumers following on June 1.
“Other administered prices, together with the price of fuel, is gradually lowering the morale of ordinary citizens and it might not be long before they say: ‘Enough is enough. We can take no more’ and then start with public resistance,” he said.
Motorists interviewed yesterday said there was little they could do about the increase other than to put up with it.
“What the hell do you want me to say?” responded Peter Coxall, 69, when asked to comment while filling up his tank at a city garage.
“I’m not angry, because who is there to be angry at? I’ll put up with it,” he said.
Some motorists suggested measures that the government could employ to ease the burden on consumers.
These suggestions included improved public transportation
“The government could work on existing transportation infrastructure instead of flashy new projects.
“This is a good opportunity for the public and business sector to work together to find a solution,” said city resident Andrew Russell