Photo: Neil Baynes

Durban - The fuel price is expected to jump by more than R1.50 next month – the second increase in two months.

Drivers started the year with a massive drop in the price – to less than R10 for a litre of petrol. However, earlier this month it increased close to R11 and above, depending on whether the driver was at the coast or inland.

Now the price of petrol is expected to go up by about R1.55 a litre on April 1, while diesel will increase by about R1.15 a litre.

The AA has warned that the Central Energy Fund’s preliminary mid-month data showed that motorists were set to be battered by high international petroleum prices and the rand’s continuing decline against the US dollar.

“The only positive is a slight softening of international petroleum prices in the first weeks of March, but unless the rand gains some ground against the US dollar, the outlook for motorists remains unfavourable,” the AA said.

A senior economic researcher at the Solidarity Research Institute, Paul Joubert, said: “A part of these increases stem from the 80.5c higher government levies on fuel announced by the Minister of Finance, Nhlanhla Nene, in his Budget speech. The remainder of the increases will be due to higher oil prices in March, as well as the weakening of the rand against the US dollar.”

Joubert explained that even if oil prices fell to about $46 (R562) a barrel this month, as in mid-January, the petrol price would still rise by about R1.40 a litre.

Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business chief executive Melanie Veness said: “We are operating in a volatile economic environment and enterprises are advised to factor this volatility into their business models. We didn’t see a large reduction in transport costs and prices of goods on the shelves, so it is hoped that we don’t see a sudden surge in prices in reaction to this fuel increase”.

Stephen le Roux of Growthpoint Limited said the fuel price hike would have a negative impact on the retail industry as consumers would have less disposable income.

“Unfortunately, consumers who use public transport do not benefit directly from the fuel price drop, but there is sometimes an increase in public transport fares when the petrol price goes up,” he said.

The KZN chairwoman of the SA Council of Shopping Centres, Nazrana Premlall, shared Le Roux’s sentiments.

“Previously we would get consumers coming to malls even when there was a fuel price hike, but now there is an option of online shopping, so retail centres have to capitalise on food and leisure to attract consumers to the centres,” she said.

The Department of Energy is expected to make the announcement on changes in the fuel price on March 27.

The Mercury