The Energy Department confirmed the fuel increase on Tuesday and the hike in fuel could be particularly debilitating given its effects on other expenses like the price of food. Some are speculating that the increase could be as much as 50 cents a litre due to the rand hitting a bad patch and the introduction of new predetermined levies, but spokesperson Bheki Khumalo said "The department will announce the increase next week, but at this stage it is speculative."
Apart from the potential fuel hike, South Africans are going to have to dig deep to adjust their budgets in April as the prices of various goods are on the up and up.
The price increases include:
- Metrorail ticket prices will go up between 15% and 20% as of April 1.
- Country wide, the cost of toll roads has already increased from the start of March and a return trip from Johannesburg to Polokwane in a car will now cost R216, up from R190, while a return trip between Johannesburg to Durban is up from R300 to R360.
- DSTV have increased their prices - a full bouquet subscription is up from R499 to R529 and the compact subscription will increase to R230 from R219.
- A general fuel levy of 15,5% a litre will come into effect on April 7, as predetermined by the minister of finance earlier this year. 7.5 cents will go towards a new fuel pipeline between Durban and Gauteng and eight cents will be contributed to the Road Accident Fund.
- Airport taxes are expected to be upped by 133% in August - if the regulator agrees to the promised increases, domestic airport taxes will go up from R42 to R99 per flight, regional flight taxes will go from R89 to R208 and international taxes will go from R118 to R271.
Investments Solutions economist Chris Hart said: "A lot of these costs are on essential services. We need transport to and from work. You need transport even to go and look for a job. Fuel price increments will have a knock-on effect that will raise other prices - like food."
Even more worrying is that experts expect the lower and middle class population to be hit the hardest. "Consumers are getting more into debt because of these forced increases. Poor people won't be able to afford basic necessities," National Consumer Forum spokeswoman Ina Wilken said.
Andy Gilder, General Manager of Internet comparison portal Justmoney.co.za says that a recent influx in applications for cash flow related products would suggest that South Africans are feeling the pinch already, without even factoring in the additional price hikes.
"We've seen a number of users visiting our site searching for advice on how to ease cash flow or how to decrease expenses. If they aren't already doing so, South Africans should be making use of sites like ours to save money wherever possible. 2010 must be the year that the overextended pull their lifestyles in line with what they can afford. Very soon all the price hikes will have a debilitating effect on those you are living on the borderline."