Government working to ease fuel pinch

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Government is actively seeking ways to soften the blow the recent fuel price increases have had on consumers, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Thursday.

President Ramaphosa made the impassioned commitment during a press briefing on the side-lines of Ghana President Nana Akufo-Addo’s first state visit to South Africa.

Addressing journalists at the Union Buildings, President Ramaphosa said the recent fuel increases were unfortunate but that the government was working towards finding a solution. Fuel this week increased by between 26 cents and 37 cents and was expected to be hiked again next month.

“We, as a government, are busy at the moment looking at the impact of these price increases with regards to petrol and we are actively looking at ways in which we can find some solutions.

“Solutions are not going to be easy to find. We feel for our people and we are going to be working to find ways in which we can soften the blow and ameliorate this difficulty that our people are facing,” he said.

The President indicated that the situation was beyond the government’s control as prices were determined by the price fluctuations on the dollar exchange basis as well as the price of oil.

“South Africa is in the unfortunate position in that we import our energy resource, which is oil. We are price takers, we don’t make the price and we are therefore vulnerable in that regard.” 

The President further urged businesses to hold off on increasing prices until a solution was found.

“All we can say is; those who may be thinking – particularly retailers – of increasing prices, to hold back and not increase prices of food stuff and other products that our people use. This fuel price should not automatically lead to the increased living conditions for our people. At a government level, we will be seeing what ways can be found in order to ameliorate the difficulty our people are going through.”

The two countries had agreed to engage on energy.

“We were joined by the ministers who deal with energy on both sides. We were particularly pleased when President Akufo-Addo informed us that Ghana was going to open up a new block and they have actively invited South Africa to pay an interest in this. We immediately raised our hand in this.

“We are interested in participating in finding ways in oil exploitation. In this regard our Minister [of] Energy, Jeff Radebe, will join his counterpart in trying to see if we can reach agreements on how South Africa can participate,” the President said. –