Statistics South Africa has published its Consumer Price Index (CPI) for March 2021, with inflation once again rising back into the South African Reserve Bank’s inflation target range of 3–6%.
The data shows that annual headline inflation quickened slightly to 3.2% in March from 2.9% in February.
The food and non-alcoholic beverages category was the main driver of inflation in March, moving 5.7% year-on-year, and contributing one percentage point to the total CPI annual rate of 3.2%.
Housing and utilities increased by 2.2% year-on-year and contributed 0.5 of a percentage point. Transport increased by 3.8% year-on-year and contributed 0.5 of a percentage point.
Miscellaneous goods and services increased by 4% year-on-year and contributed 0.7 of a percentage point.
Stats SA said that the products that recorded annual price rises above the 5.7% average included in the following categories:
- Oils and fats (13.4%);
- Sugar, sweets and desserts (7.4%);
- Milk, eggs and cheese (7.2%);
- Fish (6.8%);
- Meat (6.7%);
- Fuel (2.3%).
The data shows that fuel prices in March 2021 were also 2.3% higher on average than they were in March 2020.
This is the first time in 12 months that fuel prices have increased on an annual basis. In other words, for the first time in a year, motorists are paying more for fuel than they were 12 months before.
The latest data published by the Central Energy Fund points flat petrol prices in May, with a decrease in prices set for diesel.
The CEF data shows a slight over-recovery for 93 petrol, with prices expected to drop by 4 cents per litre. There is no change for 95 petrol. Diesel drivers an expect a bigger reprieve from price hikes, with the CEF showing an over-recovery for 0.05% and 0.005% at around 31 cents per litre.
The CEF’s daily data serves as a snapshot of current trends – but the Department of Energy makes adjustments based on a review of the full period.
Prices are affected by two main components – the rand/dollar exchange rate, and changes to international petroleum product costs, largely driven by oil prices.
The rand has experienced some relative strength over month so far, but has seen some signs of weakening. Oil prices, meanwhile, have been stable around $66 a barrel.