Ease burden, drop some of fuel levies

Image: 123RF/Vojtech Vlk

Stats SA yesterday gave the country a dose of good news on the economic front. According to the institution, the economy grew by 1.4% in the fourth quarter of 2018.

In case we have forgotten, 2018 was a tough year with the country at one stage being plunged into a technical recession as the economy shrunk by 2.7% during the first two quarters.

That we finished the year in a much stronger position is thanks partly to the political changes that set the country on a new path during the second part of 2018.

Other factors that contributed to this growth are the strong performances by sectors such as finance, real estate and the business services industry.

This good news is, however, unfortunately offset by another development that is likely to hit consumers hard in the pocket - eroding whatever benefits may have been derived from the modest economic growth.

As of today, motorists will pay 74 cents more for a litre of petrol. A litre of 95 octane unleaded petrol now costs R14.82 inland.

As is always the case with petrol hikes, this latest increase is going to hit the poor the hardest. Transportation costs, which are already too high for the majority of South Africans, are likely to increase while, throughout all industries, salaries have not increased much in real terms.

While we all understand that there is little net importers of oil like SA can do to keep the petrol price down as we have no control over the crude oil price as well as the rand/US dollar exchange rate, it is time government considered measures that would help keep the increases manageable.

As much as we accept that various levies built into our petrol and diesel price structure are necessary in the state's bid to raise revenue for common benefit, we believe the government needs to consider freezing some of these as a relief for long-suffering motorists.

Reports indicate that motorists in a number of neighbouring countries pay less for a litre of petrol because they have a different pricing structure. While their needs are not the same as ours, we must do all that is possible to ensure that the pricing differences are not too vast as most South Africans are in the same boat economically as the rest of southern Africa.