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Energy dept under fire for announcing fuel price hike just before polls closed

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The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy is facing a backlash after November’s record fuel price hikes were only announced 15 minutes before the polls closed.

File image: Pixabay

AS REPORTED earlier on Tuesday, South African motorists are facing record fuel price increases from Wednesday, with both grades of petrol set to rise by R1.21, diesel by R1.48 and paraffin by R1.45.

However, aspects relating to the timing of the announcement by the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) have come into question.

The Automobile Association (AA) says it is deeply concerned about the fact that the announcement by the DMRE was headlined “FOR RELEASE ON 28 OCTOBER 2021” yet it was only issued 15 minutes before the election polls closed on Monday night, November 01.

“When a media statement is datelined four days prior to an election but delayed until 15 minutes before the polls close, it is difficult to conclude otherwise than that this bad news was deliberately suppressed to protect the incumbent government,” the AA said. “We will be writing to Parliament to demand an explanation for the delay.”

The association said it would also continue to push for clarity on the additional ‘Slate Levy’ that was imposed on the fuel price. The Slate Levy is used to claw back losses from fuel price under-recoveries when the cumulative petrol and diesel slate balances exceed R250 million.

The AA says the November fuel price hike comes as a result of a perfect storm of international demand imbalances for crude oil as well as rising refinery costs and rand weakness … and the future prognosis does not look positive.

“With oil demand buoyant and supply lagging, the ongoing issues with natural gas cost and supply, and refining costs a worry, we see little cause for optimism. Added to this is the volatile rand/US dollar exchange rate and users of liquid fuels in South Africa are probably in for a rough ride in the next three to six months,” the AA said.

Petrol prices have increased by around 40% since January, with 95 Unleaded hitting R19.54 a litre in the inland regions.

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