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‘Cost of living still high’

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John Kapito

Economic experts have lamented the high cost of living in the country, saying low income earners are still facing challenges to earn a decent living.

The experts have attributed the elevated cost of living to continued volatility of the economy despite efforts by the government to narrow the gap by the revising the minimum wage and tax-free band in the 2021-22 National Budget.

Latest figures from the Centre for Social Concern (CfSC) show that the cost of living for a family of six stood at K203, 000 in July, compared to K164, 000 during the same period last year.

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In an interview Monday, CfSC Programme Officer for Economic Governance Bernard Mphepo said the economy remained under intense pressure due to the covid pandemic.

He, however, said the cost of living was expected to go down between June and July due to a decrease in food prices.

“Unfortunately, the cost of other food items such as cooking oil and essential non-food items from shops has been steadily increasing. Without government intervention, the cost of living is envisaged to keep on increasing for the next months since the price of maize is expected to be increasing every month.

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“The government must, therefore, put deliberate policies that will help reduce the cost of living. Delays by Admarc to buy maize and other crops from smallholder farmers mean that they will be unable to buy farm inputs at the current market price,” Mphepo said.

In a separate interview, local economic expert Sane Zaka said the trend has been perpetuated by subdued business activity.

“This situation is driving prices high. This situation is worsened by other unfavourable macroeconomic factors that affect businesses such as the devaluing Kwacha. It is expected that the cost of living will remain high as we go to the food lean period,” Zuka said.

Consumers Association of Malawi chief said John Kapito said the cost of living is slowly rising due to factors such as inflation, a weak Kwacha and scarcity of certain basic goods and services as a result of Covid.

“Our independent study shows that urban cost of living has gone up to K369,000 per month for a family of six while, in rural and peri-urban areas, the cost of living is now at K211,000 and K169,000 respectively,” Kapito said.

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