An ugly Christmas is upon us - Namibians speak on fuel hike

 

The general meltdown in the overall economy coupled with the latest fifth fuel price hike have put ordinary Namibians into panic mode and they expressed fears that this year’s festive season will be a terrible one.

 

 Concerned citizens who spoke to The Villager said the fuel increase came as a shock to them while their savings were not as good as they wanted them to be ahead of Christmas.

 

 The ministry of mines and energy announced this week a fuel price increase of N$0.50 per litre for petrol and N$0.70 per litre for diesel countrywide with effect of 7 November 2018 midnight.

 

Just a month away into December where most Namibians will be in the festive mood for shopping and travelling, the latest increase in fuel will considerably eat into savings.

It further narrows the budget considering the demands of the new year which come with the burden of school fees, bills, and monthly food expenditure.

 

Said director at Twilight Capital Mally Likukela, “The light we thought was the end of the tunnel around the second quarter of 2018 was, in fact, an approaching train, Namibia is still very much inside a tunnel. The mid-term budget also did not provide much of hope considering that the resources re-allocated are for pre-meditated activities, that do not constitute a rescue package.”

 

“Consumers should definitely brace themselves for a bumpy festive season, and subsequently a painful January disease. The poor prospects of rain already predict a shortage of food next year that will exacerbate the inflation and cause great strain on the already strained incomes. Administrative prices on education (especially tertiary) will soon kick -in for the next academic year and will eat-away a bit of income.” 

 

 

A single working mother of two, Karin Cloete said while the festive season has always been a time of showering her family with an assortment of gifts, this time not everyone will be spoilt.

 

“I have kids and I just must spend for Christmas, what must I do? But fuel is increasing and our salaries are not,” she lamented.

 

An economist at the Economic Association of Namibia, Klaus Schade predicted that rising fuel prices will lead to higher transportation costs and overtime to price adjustments for consumer products.

 

What this means for the overall price of basic commodities Namibians rely on month-on-month is that they will be shooting up.

 

Said Schade, “On the other hand, local producers competing with imported products could gain a competitive edge due to shorter transport distances. Therefore, sourcing inputs and final products locally could help to contain the upward price pressure.”

 

He advised that sourcing goods to the extent possible locally will protect producers and consumers from increased transportation costs and a weaker currency. 

 

Already ordinary Namibians are feeling the heat of a weaker currency while experts have observed that prices for goods and services accelerated at the fastest pace this year. 

 

Speaking to this publication, Simon Esterhuizen who plies his trade as a consulting auditor said the hike means most will have to limit driving around to save on fuel.

 

 “Before we even talk of Christmas, my daily routine has already changed considerably and I had to adjust my pocket accordingly. What a fuel increase means is that prices for groceries will also go up. When its Christmas time it means I have to travel to my in-laws and I still have to come back. Many of the people that I spoke to said we are staying put,” he said.

 

The situation gets murkier considering that a majority of Namibians working in Windhoek come from the North, he said, and thus they have to deal with long distances that are energy intensive.

 

“Whereas I used to spend N$600 to travel with my small car, I now have to use N$1 000 just for fuel. And when we get home we still have to drive around. So if you have to travel, cut down on extra-unnecessary expenses and stop impulse buying or heavy item buying because the prices have come down,” he said.

 

Ahead of January next year, Namibians may have to be on the look-out for their debit orders and have them covered first before plunging into festive gear, he added.

“The situation is just bad for everyone,” said one motorist who identified himself as Tangeni.