Pretoria - Minister of energy Jeff Radebe will outline plans next week to deal with the rising prices of fuel and the impact this has on South Africans.
Communications minister Nomvula Mokonyane said on Thursday the government was concerned about the escalating costs of fuel and would consider measures to alleviate pressure on the consumers. She said Radebe would outline plans in addressing the issue.
The national treasury denied, however, that a panel looking at the review of zero-rated food items would also look at the fuel prices. The panel was set up by finance minister Nhlanhla Nene a few months ago after the increase in VAT from 14 to 15 percent.
The government has come under fire from parties and civil society after the latest increase with another fuel increase in the pipeline in August. The ANC has also urged the government to intervene on the matter, but the DA said the government would need to clean up corruption before addressing the rising fuel prices. It said the government must reduce the Road Accident Fund fuel levy and the general fuel levy by 20 percent.
However, Mokonyane said they would deal with the matter as it was a serious concern for government.
“Minister Radebe, having consulted, will be able to communicate a message that government is concerned and is hard at work. It will happen in the course of next week,” said Mokonyane. On comments by the ANC for the government to intervene she said it would be important for the ruling party to be informed about measures taken to deal with the situation.
“We are all ANC deployees and we are affected by the oil price. Once Radebe comes he will have that integrated response,” said Mokonyane.
She said she would not comment on whether the fuel levy must be frozen. She said things must be processed “and you cannot generate policy from your feet”.
Mokonyane said one of the contributing factors to the increase in fuel prices was the exchange rate for Brent crude oil; the rand has weakened recently, which has had an impact on the purchase of crude oil. Mokonyane urged the private sector not to immediately pass the cost of fuel to the consumers.
She said the Department of Energy would look at all possible options to deal with the situation, but South Africa was an oil consuming nation and was affected by what was happening in the rest of the world; the prices were determined by the external factors, she said, adding that Radebe would, however, take the nation into his confidence about measures government will take to address the situation.