DA demands that Parliament scrap unnecessary fuel taxes

Issued by Kevin Mileham – DA Shadow Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy
23 May 2022 in News

Please find attached soundbite by Kevin Mileham MP.

I have written to the Speaker of the National Assembly to request a debate of urgent national public importance on the impact of steeply rising fuel prices on the South African cost of living and the steps that must urgently be taken to shield the poor from the worst effects of this.

The price of petrol is expected to rise by between R3.50 and R4 per litre in June, driving up already sky-high prices of food and other essential goods, most of which are solely reliant on road freight due to the complete collapse of our national railway system, and thereby delivering a massive, destabilising blow to a nation already on its knees.

We need to pull out all the stops to avert the worst possible consequences of the perfect storm we are heading into. June’s massive fuel price hike and its knock-on effects will hit the poorest the hardest at a time when they are already battling the deadly consequences of 46% unemployment, load-shedding, irrational Covid-regulations, soaring global inflation driven by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, flooding in some areas and drought in others, and a state increasingly unable to deliver on even its most basic mandate.

A 5.3% increase in social grants in April this year has already been wiped out by the 9.6% increase in electricity tariffs. South Africans cannot afford to pay for electricity they do not even reliably receive due to the current Stage 4 loadshedding.

Household budgets are being decimated. Any further petrol price hike risks pushing over 30 million South Africans into destitution and hunger. This is a looming humanitarian catastrophe that could spark widespread social instability and a repeat of the July unrest last year.

We need urgent intervention to shield poor consumers from the worst of these potentially deadly consequences. The government must agree immediately to restrict any rise in the cost of petrol and diesel in the short term to protect South African consumers from famine. More basic items need to be immediately zero-rated for VAT, and a broader strategy needs to be developed to stem the rising cost of living which threatens the stability of our nation.

There are so many ways to cover the shortfall in revenue from fuel price and VAT relief for the poor. The very best would be for government to implement long-overdue reforms on multiple fronts and to tackle corruption head on. Any and all of these would immediately build investor confidence in South Africa’s future and fortify our fiscal position.

The ANC government has for too long taxed the poor to cover for its inefficiency and corruption. The time for this abuse of power to end is now.