Cape Town - Democratic Alliance (DA) energy spokesperson Lance Greyling has strongly criticised Energy Minister Dipuo Peters' approval of the increase in the retail margin of petrol sales that has contributed to the expected 93 cents per litre hike due this week.

Ms Peters has approved that the retail margin on all grades of petrol be increased by 3.5 cents per litre from 91.8 cents per litre to 95.3 cents per litre with effect from Wednesday‚ September 5.

A statement issued by her department said this increase was necessary in order for service station operators to finance the wage increases for service station pump attendants and cashiers agreed upon at the Motor Industry Bargaining Council in September 2010.

Greyling said on Monday that inclusion in the already-controversial petrol pump price formula has not been discussed in Parliament.

“I will be tabling a motion for debate on this issue‚ placing it in the broader context of how government plans to deal with increasing future oil prices‚” he said.

Greyling said this increase could have been avoided if the Department of Energy had taken heed of the DA's proposals to adjust the petrol pricing formula.

“Petrol can be much more affordable if government taxes and levies are reduced to a minimum and the basic fuel price reflects oil supply fundamentals over the long term‚” he said.

Greyling said the basic fuel price was driven by the international oil price‚ which fails to reflect supply fundamentals and local conditions.

“Then there are a number of other levies and taxes that are added to arrive at the petrol price. These include the ill-conceived road accident fund levy‚ and now a new subsidy for paying 'wages of service-station pump attendants and cashiers'‚” he said.

Greyling said while his party was strongly in favour of improved working conditions and pay for these workers‚ the mechanisms by which it happens must first be debated in parliament.

“This would also serve to provide surety that any agreed subsidy actually reaches its intended recipients‚” he said. - I-Net Bridge