Flash Briefing: SA unemployment up AGAIN; further fuel price hikes; E-toll saga to drag on in 2022

  • SA unemployment continued to accelerate in the third quarter, reaching 34.9%, up from 34.4% in the preceding three months, statistician-general Risenga Maluleke said on Tuesday. Presenting the Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) for the third quarter in Irene, Tshwane on Tuesday, Maluleke said the number of employed people fell by 660,000 in the three months to end-September to 14.3 million, while the number of unemployed people decreased by 183,000 to 7.6 million. SA’s economy is dogged by high rates of inequality, poverty and unemployment, and the economy took a further battering from Covid-19 with about 1.4 million jobs lost in 2020 in which the economy contracted 6.4%. Maluleke reported a net increase of 988,000 in the not economically active population.
  • Analysts warn that the latest fuel price hikes taking effect from Wednesday will have a dire impact on consumers. On Monday, energy minister Gwede Mantashe announced that motorists will be forking over an additional 81 cents per litre for petrol this week, taking the price to over R20 a litre. The AA has warned that the price hikes will have a knock-on effect across the supply chain and add inflationary pressure to the economy. Analysts have said that fuel price hikes this year have already pushed many consumers to the brink of their budgets, and the latest may push them over the edge. There have been calls for a full review of fuel prices in South Africa, including reducing taxes.
  • Following reports that the government has finally decided to scrap e-tolls in Gauteng, transport minister Fikile Mbalula has issued a statement denying any such decision has been made. Mbalula – who has been promising a resolution to the e-toll saga for years – said that Cabinet has not yet made any decision on e-tolls and that the decision isn’t as simple as scrapping or not scrapping the system. He set yet another deadline, saying that the National Treasury will have the final say and present these findings in the 2022 budget speech.
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