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How much petrol costs in South Africa without taxes

South Africans would be paying anywhere from R13.78 to R16.66 per litre of fuel in August if taxes were completely removed.

Currently, there are six different taxes, levies, or duties imposed on all grades of fuel in the country, with varying values and purposes.

These include:

  • Slate Levy
  • IP Tracer Levy
  • Petroleum Products Levy
  • Customs and Excise Duties
  • Road Accident Fund (RAF) Levy
  • General Fuel Levy (GFL)

As of August, the combined values of these tariffs sit at R6.17 per litre of petrol and a slightly lower R6.03 per litre of diesel, with the RAF levy and GFL responsible for over 90% of this.

Following the most recent hikes in fuel prices of 37c/l for petrol and up to 72c/l for diesel, drivers are paying from R21.71 to R22.83 per litre of petrol, and from R19.49 to R20.53 per litre of diesel, depending on the type and grade of fuel, and whether it’s purchased at inland or coastal rates.

This means that taxes account for anywhere between 27% to 31% of all fuel prices.

As such, the cost of petrol and diesel if taxes were removed would look as follows:

Fuel type Inland Coastal
Petrol 93 R16.26 R15.54
Petrol 95 R16.66 R15.94
Diesel 0.05% R14.18 R13.46
Diesel 0.005% R14.50 R13.78

More taxes, fewer results

When it comes to fuel taxes and road maintenance in South Africa, there is a huge disconnect between the amount of tax motorists are required to pay and the amount of service they get in return.

Since 2008, the country has experienced a cumulative 225% rise in the General Fuel Levy (GFL) to R3.81-3.95 per litre and a massive 425% hike in the Road Accident Fund (RAF) levy to R2.18 per litre.

While these tariffs, which are allocated to road maintenance and compensation for road accident victims, respectively, have increased dramatically over the last 15 years, their intended purpose has not materialised.

Much of South Africa’s roads have reached the end of their 20-year design life with the lack of maintenance causing them to fall further and further into disarray, with the current repair bill standing in the region of R197 billion, according to transport minister Sindisiwe Chikunga.

In addition, certain victims of road accidents who claimed from the RAF have been waiting years, and in some cases, died before their claims could be finalised due to constantly-changing practice directives that make it much harder to get paid out, said Gert Nel of Gert Nel Inc. Attorneys.

“These practice directives are supposedly aimed at addressing the congested trial rolls through so-called judicial case management,” said Nel.

“However, in reality, these practice directives achieved the complete opposite, worsening the situation and in fact, resulting in a much larger problem.”

All the while, the average motorist has had to shoulder the ever-increasing taxes which not only elevate prices at the pumps, but also the cost of everything else around them as a good 80% of the country’s goods are delivered to their end destinations via trucks due to the disastrous state of South Africa’s rail network, with the high fuel prices severely affecting the cost of transport and in turn, the price tags we see when shopping for groceries, clothes, medicine, you name it.

This has led to organisations including the Fuel Retailers Association (FRA) as well as the Democratic Alliance (DA) to call on the government to review the country’s fuel price structures and wherever possible, cut down on bloated taxes and levies.

“South African households are being squeezed from all sides – unable to afford basic transport or sufficient food due to these increases and the consequent rise in food prices,” said the DA’s Dr. Dion George.

“The DA rejects the notion that already overtaxed South Africans should shoulder the economic burden created by Government’s own policies.”

He also noted that changing where South Africa purchases its oil will see a “significant reduction” in prices at the pumps.

While the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy in October 2022 committed to reviewing aspects of how the country’s propellant prices are calculated, it said it will target wholesale and retail margins which are allocated to fuel traders, rather than its self-imposed taxes and levies.

The FRA’s Peter Morgan said while a review is welcome, it should be focused on taxes, not the margins which combined barely cross the R1-per-litre threshold and are used to pay things like employee wages and to perform regular service and maintenance on pumps.

“If I look at the levies and the road accident fund, there’s more than R6 in there. How much can you cut from R1.34 if half of it is going to wages anyway,” he said.

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