Economic ministers mull over fuel price issue

Cape Town – Cabinet's economic cluster is considering allowing National Treasury's expert panel on zero-rated VAT items to expand the scope of its work to include reviewing the recent fuel price hikes.

This emerged on Thursday evening as the latest in a number of interventions President Cyril Ramaphosa directed Cabinet to consider in order to alleviate the impact of price increases on South Africans.

The ANC earlier in the week called on government to consider a freezing the hikes.

The inland price for a litre of 95 octane unleaded petrol rose to a record R16.02 on Wednesday. The coastal price is R15.43. Prices are expected to increase again in August.

Communications Minister Nomvula Mokonyane said Cabinet had also discussed the fuel price hikes at a meeting on Wednesday meeting. After her press briefing it was widely reported that the VAT panel would also investigate the fuel price hikes.

National Treasury later clarified that the panel's mandate had not yet been expanded. 

Challenges 

In a statement released on Friday, the economic cluster – which includes the ministries of labour, mineral resources, trade and industry and public enterprises – said Ramaphosa convened a special meeting to discuss fuel prices and deliberate on government interventions.

"The meeting resolved that the mandate of the VAT commission could be expanded to include the fuel price issues. 

"It was also decided that government should communicate more to explain the challenges to society," the statement read.

The economic cluster, and Cabinet as a whole, also asked that various business sectors in SA be "circumspect" when passing on the costs of the fuel price to consumers.

As government grapples with how to lessen the impact of fuel prices on consumers, ministers have been giving saving tips. According to Energy Minister Jeff Radebe, road users should try carpooling, avoid unnecessary journeys and practice "economical driving techniques"

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