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South African inflation hits 30-month high

South Africa’s headline consumer price inflation rose to a 30-month high in May, driven by surging food and fuel prices, official data showed Wednesday.

Inflation reached 5.2 percent year-on-year in May, and up from 4.4 percent in April, according to Statistics South Africa.

“This is the highest reading since November 2018 when the rate was also 5.2 percent,” said director for price statistics Marietjie Bennett.

Food and non-alcoholic beverage price increases accelerated to 6.7 percent in May from 6.3 percent the previous month. Such inflation had not been seen since July 2017.

The agency said petrol prices were 41.8 percent higher in May compared to the same month in the previous year.

It also warned that cooking oil had sharply increased with an annual rise of 30.3 percent in May.

On a month-to-month basis, StatsSA said the CPI increased by 0.1 percent in May.

After a plunge in economic activity related to the coronavirus pandemic, South Africa continued its slow recovery in the first quarter of 2021, with GDP growing by 1.1 percent.

Inflation is rising worldwide as Covid restrictions are eased and economies recover, but central banks say the price rises are temporary.