Trade union Solidarity has drafted a parliamentary petition and is running a campaign to pressure government to deregulate the petrol price and lower fuel prices, reports The Citizen.
South Africans are paying record fuel prices following the hefty increases on Wednesday.
The Energy Department on Saturday announced that both grades of petrol, 93 and 95 octane, would increase by R1.46 per litre while motorists will be paying R1.48 more for a litre of diesel.
The latest increase pushes the petrol price to a record high of R21.60 per lire for 95 unleaded.
Russia’s war with Ukraine has also had a massive impact on oil prices with the spot price of crude oil soaring to a seven-year high to above the $110 a barrel mark on Wednesday for the first time since July 2014.
According to Solidarity, the government has a stranglehold on fuel prices which must be broken.
Solidarity said its petition demands that the determination of fuel prices be left entirely to the market so that healthy competition can prevail for the benefit of consumers.
Theuns du Buisson, economics researcher at the Solidarity Research Institute (SRI), said their research shows that in South Africa price regulation is keeping fuel prices artificially high.
“While the rest of the world embraces the free market, the South African government is clinging to Soviet thinking that is hurting the economy. Determining fuel prices is one such example that is hurting the economy.”
Du Buisson said with high unemployment and inflation, South Africans can no longer afford a government that is indifferent and insensitive.
“We must now take action to force the government to act in the interests of South Africans and not their own. When the price of fuel rises, almost all other products and services also become more expensive, and ordinary South Africans struggle to make ends meet.”
Du Buisson argued that while there are international factors that influence fuel prices, the government cannot justify its own “irresponsible actions”.
“Apart from the exchange rate and the international oil price that currently make up just under half of the final petrol price, all aspects of the petrol price are determined by the state. First, we still have excessive taxes in the form of the fuel levy and the Road Accident Fund levy. In addition, the profit of every other role player, from the importer, wholesaler, transportation contractor, secondary storage contractor and ultimately to the filling station owner, is prescribed by the state.”
Du Buisson said Solidarity had no choice but to launch an extensive campaign and is asking South Africans to support its petrol deregulation campaign against government.