CONSUMERS have been warned to brace them-selves for the im-pending double whammy of a fu¬el price hike and sharp elec¬tricity increases next month.
A weak rand and a rise in the crude oil price are driv¬ing the cost of fuel up, says independent economist Dawie Roodt.
The inflation descent is ex-pected to come to an end next month when the fuel hike kicks in, and higher food price
MAKING ENDS MEET: Consumers will have to re-examine their monthly budgets to account for the rising cost of living
This has been highlighted in credit firm MBD’s consu¬mer financial vulnerability index, which shows South Africans’ finances are under pressure.creased by 7.4% in the fourth quarter of last year.
The index research – con-ducted by the Bureau of Mar¬ket Research (BMR) and the department of taxation at Unisa on behalf of MBD – showed the benefits of lower fuel prices, which have helped boost disposable in¬comes and finances, were not being felt by all con¬sumers.
transport costs had in- sumers’debt-servicing capa- the fourth quarter of last
bilities remained their biggest concern and cause BMR economist Jacolize
Meiring said the pressure on consumer finances had been intensified by prolonged la¬bour strikes, price increases and slow employment growth, which had negative¬ly influenced income levels.
Debt Rescue chief execu¬tive Neil Roets said: “The to¬tal debt consumers stacked up during the past few years means indebted consumers owe 75% of their net earn¬ings to creditors. “Once they have serviced their debt, little money is left for essentials like food, clo¬thing, transport and school fees.”
Retailers had not passed on the savings accrued through reduced fuel prices, which resulted in cheaper transportation and operat¬ing costs, Roets said.
“About the only thing we can say about food prices is there has been a slowdown in price increases.
“The overall economic outlook remains grim as mil-lions of consumers are un¬able to service their debt, re¬sulting in greater numbers having to seek help from debt counsellors.
“Debt Rescue has been ex-periencing unprecedented growth because of the flood of consumers who are on the verge of losing possessions to debt collectors and resort to debt review to help them repay their debt in a manage¬able way,” Roets said