Fuel prices have increased by 19.9% over the last year. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

STATISTICS South Africa has published its Consumer Price Index (CPI) for September 2021, with inflation increasing slightly to 5% from 4.9% in August.

This is the fifth consecutive month where the annual increase is higher than the midpoint (4.5%) of the South African Reserve Bank’s monetary policy target range.

Fuel was a significant contributor to annual transport inflation in September. On average, fuel prices have increased by 19.9% over the last year, Stats SA said.

“The price of inland 95-octane petrol reached an all-time high of R18.34 per litre in September 2021, biting into the pockets of motorists who were paying R15.18 per litre in September 2020 and R16.03 per litre in September 2019,” the statistics body said.

“Drivers of diesel-powered vehicles have also had to fork out more. The average diesel price was R17.18 per litre in September 2021, higher than the prices recorded in September 2020 (R14.87) and September 2019 (R16.02).”

Annual fuel inflation has been consistently higher than overall headline inflation since April 2021. There is speculation in the press about further fuel price increases in November and that these might be substantial.

Mid-month estimates from the Central Energy Fund (CEF) show an under-recovery in both petrol and diesel prices, pointing to a possible increase of between 95 and 98 cents per litre for petrol and over R1.40 per litre for diesel.

Other increases

The primary drivers of September’s monthly rise were transport, petrol and food. Some of the largest annual price increases (September 2020 vs September 2021) were recorded for the following goods and services:

  • Oils and fats: +22.4%
  • Electricity and other fuels: +14%
  • Meat: +10.3%
  • Public transport: +6.7%
  • Wine: +6.4%
  • Sugar, sweets and desserts: +5.8%
  • Milk, eggs and cheese: +5.5%
  • Fish” +5.2%

“Prices for fruit, vegetables, meat and fish decreased in September 2021 compared with August. Beefsteak steak prices declined by 1.3%, and lamb/mutton was on average 0.6% cheaper.”

“Despite the monthly decline in prices, meat is still 10,3% more expensive than a year ago,” StatsSA said.

The annual inflation rate for oils & fats remains above 20%, with September 2021 reading at 22.4%. “The average price for a 700 ml bottle of sunflower oil was R30,98 in September, the highest on record since Stats SA started publishing data with the new inflation basket.”

The statistics body also noted the annual inflation rate for restaurants and hotels was 3.2% in September – the highest since November 2019 when the rate was also 3.2%.

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