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Cost of living bites harder

PUSHED UP—Cost of living

Ben Kalua

A basic needs basket report published by the Centre for Social Concern (CfSC) has shown that the cost of living for a family of six in an urban setting rose to K221,543 in October, the highest in recent history.

This represents an 11 percent increase year-on-year when compared to the K198,917 recorded in October 2020 and a 6.8 percent rise month-on-month when compared to K207,334 in September.

In an interview, CfSC Programme Officer for Economic Governance Bernard Mphepo said the situation portrays that Malawians were grappling to make ends meet.

“There is a need for deliberate policies for the government to ensure that the cost of living is contained. The minimum wage is still very low at K50,000 and needs to be increased above the cost of living.

“We also need to promote local manufacturing to reduce costs in the long run and the government must revive the Agriculture Development and Marketing Corporation to ensure availability of maize at a reasonable price. We must promote local manufacturing of cooking oil to also contain escalating increases in prices of cooking oil,” Mphepo said.

He added that the situation was expected to worsen during the lean season.

In a separate interview, Economics Professor at the University of Malawi Ben Kalua said, partly, the rise in the cost of living is attributed to global trends.

As Covid cases ease, demand for goods on the international market is on the rise and this, according to Kalua, is reflected locally as Malawi remains a net importer.

“Everybody is worried about this globally. We need to adjust and produce more. People should be more productive in whatever they do whether its subsistence production or anything else we do,” Kalua said.

A statement published by the Consumers Association of Malawi (Cama) shows that prices of commodities and services have increased by an average 58 percent between October 2020 and November 2021.

It indicates that cooking oil tops the list with prices increasing between 98 percent and 146 percent depending on the brand.

It further shows that prices of bathing and washing soaps went up between 45 percent and 70 percent.

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