JOHANNESBURG - President Cyril Ramphosa on Thursday warned companies not to take advantage of consumers following the record increase in fuel prices.
The petrol price in South Africa this week increased by 82 cents a change that has compelled motorists to deep dig in their pockets and pay R16 for a litre.
It is thought that more increases are likely to take place next month. Ramaphosa, speaking at the Union Buildings in Pretoria while hosting his counterpart Ghanian President Nana Akufo Addo who is in the country for a two-day visit, said government was working around the clock to find solutions to the fuel crisis - adding, however, that these solutions won't come easy.
"We feel for our people and we are going to find ways in which we can soften this blow and ameliorate this difficulty that our people are facing and all we can say is that those who may be thinking, particularly retailers and food makers, of increasing prices to hold back and not increase prices of foodstuff and other products that people use. This fuel price increase should not automatically lead to the increased living conditions or prices for our people," Ramphosa.
He said South Africa was in an "unfortunate position in that we import our energy resources which is oil."
Ramphosa emphasised that the price increases were subject to the price fluctuations that occur as a result of the dollar-rand exchange as the price of oil as a commodity.
"We are price takers. We don't make the price and we are therefore vulnerable in that regard," he said.
Among other concerns that have been raised by the public include the general fuel levy of R3.37 with some sectors are calling for it to be cut down or frozen as the country finds ways to mitigate through the challenges it faces, particularly in the current economic climate.
Ramaphosa further highlighted that South Africa has detailed its interest in participating in Ghana's energy projects.
"Yes we did spoke about energy, We were joined by ministers who deal with energy on both sides. Addo informed us that Ghana, which we all know is swimming in an ocean of oil, will open up a new bloc and have invited SA to participate in this," he said.
On the trade agreements between the two countries, which formed bilateral talks between the heads of state, Ramaphosa said a number of South Africa-owned companies were currently trading in West Africa.
He, however, warned that these companies had to uphold decorum while trading in foreign spaces.
"We want them to act as good citizens in the country they operate. To be good as they would ordinarily be if they were trading locally so that whatever they do they should seek to promote good labour conditions and adhere to the labour laws of the country they are at," he said.
Meanwhile, Akufo Addo acknowledged the countries fuel challenges saying they were not mutually exclusive to SA but that fuel hikes were a continental issue.
- BUSINESS REPORT