Petrol price just keeps on climbing

Motorists can expect yet another increase in fuel prices.

The price of all grades of petrol and diesel will go up next Wednesday with petrol increasing by 32 cents a litre and diesel will go up by 33 cents.

Paraffin users will pay an extra 32 cents a litre.

Government says the renewed unrest in Egypt and instability in Sudan and Libya as just some of the reasons behind the increases.

The expected increase in the retail price of all grades of petrol will plunge highly indebted South Africans even deeper into the debt spiral.

In Gauteng, 95 ULP octane petrol will now cost a record high of about R13.23 a litre, while at the coast it will cost around R12.86 a litre.

The previous record high for petrol was in April, when it reached R13.20 a litre for 95 ULP octane in Gauteng.

Neil Roets, CEO of one of South Africa’s largest debt counselling firms, Debt Rescue, said the latest price increase will have a devastating impact on consumers.

“While well-heeded high-income earners will be able to shrug it off it is the middle class and lower income earners who are going to be the worst affected.

“The majority of South Africans are barely managing to make ends meet. This increase in the fuel price is not only going to impact those South Africans with cars who are going to have to pay more at the pump but everybody else who is going to be charged more for all goods and services.

“Almost all freight in this country is transported by road because of the inability of Transnet to provide a cost-efficient rail transportation system. Because transportation costs are going to escalate, almost every item on supermarket shelves is going to cost more.

“While the increase in the price of fuel is going to hit everybody hard, it is going to push large numbers of newly arrived middle class consumers back into poverty.”

Roets said the additional debt that consumers are going to have to incur to make ends meet is going to add considerably to the total consumer debt now topping R1, 44-trillion (according to Statistics South Africa).

“We are already seeing a dramatic growth in the number of people who are seeking protection from their creditors by going under debt review. There has also been a significant growth in the number of consumers who are having their salaries docked by garnishee orders and who are being blacklisted because of judgements against them.

“We are experiencing double digit growth in our own client list and we know from colleagues in the debt counselling industry that they too are seeing rapid growth in the number of distressed consumers seeking help,” Roets said.

He said the number of consumers seeking help from his company had more than doubled over the past six months.

“Roets, who is also a lawyer and an accredited solicitor in the United Kingdom, said the situation has become dire and was confirmed as such in a statement from the National Credit Regulator.

“It’s a well-known fact that almost half of all credit-active consumers in South Africa have impaired credit records. In other words, about nine million consumers are in arrears (by three or more months) on at least one account, or have a debt judgment or administration order to their names,” Roets said.

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