Centre for Social Concern fears for urban poor
Advocates minimum wage hike
The Centre for Social Concern (CfSC) has said elevated food prices are likely to crush the country’s urban poor population.
Last week, the government announced a hike in farm gate prices of Malawi’s staple food, maize, from K220 per kg to K500 per kg, meaning that a 50kg bag of maize will now be bought at a minimum price of K25,000.
In an interview yesterday, CfSC Programmes Officer Benard Mphepo said, with the minimum wage standing at K50,000 per month, the jump in food prices spells trouble for the urban poor.
He observed that a family of six requires at least two bags of maize, which would cost them K50,000.
“While we hail authorities for pushing up the farm gate prices on one hand to take into consideration the rising cost of inputs, we fear, on the other hand, for the urban poor.
“We, therefore, propose a K100,000 minimum wage to help cushion the urban poor from escalating food prices,” Mphepo said.
On his part, Consumers Association of Malawi (Cama) Executive Director John Kapito said one would wish that consumers’ disposable incomes would be increased in the wake of rising food prices but was quick to note that it would not be easy considering the state of the economy, where the majority are unemployed and opportunities are almost non-existent.
“I doubt if the government would subside both production and consumption; otherwise, the growers will not produce maize if offered lower prices below cost of production. One would hope and wish that consumers disposable incomes were increased but that is not easy considering the state of our economy, where the majority are unemployed and opportunities for business are almost nonexistent,” Kapito said.
In the 2023-24 national budget, Finance Minister Sosten Gwengwe did not tackle the issue of minimum wage, apart from hiking salaries of civil servants by eight percent.
Gwengwe was not immediately available for a comment yesterday.
Unlike the rural poor, the urban poor do not have pieces of land to farm and normally depend on piecework for survival.