South Africa inflation hits highest point in four years


South Africa’s annual consumer inflation accelerated to its highest reading in more than four years in November 2021, driven mostly by rising transport costs.

The annual change in the consumer price index (CPI) was 5.5%, up from 5% in October and September. This is the biggest annual increase since March 2017 when the rate was 6.1%, Statistics South Africa said in a release on Wednesday (15 December).

The transport category continues to be the major factor behind inflation, recording an annual increase of 15% in November. This makes it the only major group in the inflation basket with an annual rate above the 6% upper limit of the South African Reserve Bank’s monetary policy target range.

The transport category was the only contributor to the monthly increase in the CPI and was the largest factor driving the annual change in the index, contributing 2.1 percentage points to the 5.5% annual inflation rate.

Fuel prices increased by 7.1% between October and November, taking the annual rate to 34.5%. The price of inland 95-octane petrol was R19,54 per litre in November 2021 compared with R14,59 in November 2020.

The diesel index increased by 35.1% over the same period. The average price of diesel was R18.75 per litre in November 2021 compared with R13.89 per litre in November 2020.

To highlight the impact of fuel prices, Statistics South Africa published a chart showing how fuel costs compare to inflation.

The CPI excluding fuel line shows what overall inflation would be if the influence of fuel was removed. Those periods where headline CPI does not closely follow the CPI excluding fuel indicate a noticeable impact of changing fuel prices on overall inflation.

“In 2021, headline inflation was mostly higher than the CPI excluding fuel, indicating the impact of rapidly rising fuel prices. In November, the annual change in the CPI excluding fuel index was 4.2%, lower than the headline rate of 5.5%,” StatsSA said.

“Public transport tariffs recorded a monthly increase of 1.7% and an annual rise of 8.3%. On average, vehicles are 5.6% more expensive than they were in November 2020.”


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