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Rising costs to hit consumers hard

From midnight tonight, petrol will rise to the highest level in the country's history.

Motorists will pay just under R14 for a litre of petrol from midnight on 5 February. Picture: Sapa.

JOHANNESBURG - Economists are painting a bleak picture for South African consumers, with the petrol price set to hit record highs at midnight tonight and suggestions that there will be no relief any time soon.

A litre of petrol will now cost 39 cents more, while diesel will increase by 24 cents.

This will see motorists paying just under R14 for a litre of petrol - the highest level in the country's history.

Consumers are already struggling with rising food costs, e-toll fees, recently hiked interests rates and a weaker currency.

Economist Dawie Roodt says he doesn't think the full effect of the currency is reflected in the petrol price and warns that fuel prices are likely to increase again next month.

But adds the increase is also dependent on the oil price.

"It really depends on what is going to happen with these two variables."

The latest petrol price hike is the third since December.

Economists are now urging South Africans to tighten their belts and prepare for uncertain economic times.

The Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry says the latest fuel hike will hit businesses hard in the long run.

Chamber president Janine Myburgh says there's no way for businesses to absorb the costs.

"There's no escape for business to get around this increase. Goods have to be delivered. Most machinery from compressors to bulldozers run on diesel and they have to operate."

Meanwhile, Agri Wes-Cape says red meat prices are set to rise by at least 15 percent in the first half of this year as a result of a drought in parts of the Northern Cape and the North West Province.

The farming body's Carl Opperman says farmers have lost millions to the drought.

"The drought, especially the effect it's having on red meat production, will see the price of red meat escalate."

At the same time, Agri Wes-Cape says farming sectors are being crippled by constant fuel price increases.