Fourth fuel price increase this year will hurt consumers

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Durban - THE price of fuel will increase for the fourth time this year with an increase of 54c a litre for 93 and 95 octane unleaded petrol on Wednesday, putting a further strain on consumers. Diesel will go up by 1c a litre and illuminating paraffin will climb by 3c a litre. The one saving grace for minibus taxi commuters is that fares would not increase due to this hike. The Department of Energy yesterday announced that international factors were behind the increases.

According to its statement, although the rand had strengthened slightly against the dollar, the price of Brent crude oil had risen from $66 (R950) to over $70 a barrel, the highest level in six months.

It also said diesel with 0.05% sulphur would increase by 1c a litre, while the price of diesel with 0.005% sulphur would remain unchanged.

The South African Taxi Council (Santaco) yesterday said that although the fuel increases were affecting the taxi operators who had to fork out more and more on fuel, the council would stick to its decision of only increasing taxi fares on July 1 each year.

Provincial Santaco spokesperson S’fiso Shangase said the decision to increase taxi fares annually was taken by the council in 2012 to avoid confusion with the ever-fluctuating fuel prices.

“In previous years, we had issues about when fares should be increased. Although our members felt that whenever fuel increases, taxi fares should also increase, it becomes a problem for commuters as the fees never decreased when fuel prices decreased. Our commuters have had some kind of relief ,” said Shangase. Economist Professor Bantu Dumisa said that although diesel would increase by 1c a litre, consumers would still feel the pinch as this would have an impact on the price of food, especially basic foods including fruit and vegetables.

“Most of our basic foods and fresh produce are transported by trucks that use diesel.

"The 1c may look small per litre of diesel. An ordinary diesel SUV has a 70 to 80 litre tank that makes it 80 cents per one diesel SUV. Add to that the buses and trucks, already you are talking about millions of rand collected,” he explained.

An additional tax to the fuel price - the carbon tax - will come into effect in June when an additional 9c will be added to the price of petrol and an additional 10c will be added to the price of diesel.

Visvin Reddy, the founder of the People Against Petrol Price Increases, said the group had proposed that the government do away with fuel taxes, but the government had turned a blind eye.

Reddy said that with the elections only two weeks away, another fuel increase would be a slap in the face.

In February, petrol increased by 7c a litre.

In March, petrol increased by 74c, diesel (0.05% sulphur) by 91c, diesel (0.005% sulphur) by 93c and paraffin by 76c.

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