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‘External pressure push cost of living’

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Trade Minister Sosten Gwengwe has attributed the rise in the cost of living in the country to exogenous shocks fuelled by the Covid pandemic.

Gwengwe said there has been an overall rise in prices of commodities and production globally as demand is on the rise due to an ease in Covid pressure.

“It is not in reaction to some bad policies specific to Malawi; it is an issue that has to do with the global inflation squeeze that is affecting even America and our neighbours,” Gwengwe said.

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Gwengwe was responding to concerns brought to the attention of Parliament on Tuesday by the Leader of Opposition in Parliament Kondwani Nankhumwa.

Nankhumwa took a swipe at the Tonse Alliance led government, blaming it for the rising cost of living.

Nankhumwa said the price of fuel has increased three times since the administration assumed the leadership despite promising to take Malawians to Canaan, and that Malawians have been given a “dummy”.

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He said the increase has contributed to the increase in commodity prices.

Gwengwe indicated that Malawi exports soya beans to India, where crude oil is manufactured, and, thereafter, Malawian companies bring it into the country at a higher cost, which they use in manufacturing cooking oil.

As a way of addressing the problem, Gwengwe said the government had loosened some restrictions on the importation of cooking oil to enable any company or individual who has the ability to import at a lower price to do so.

He said Zambia also announced an increase in the price of cooking oil.

He said the Covid pandemic had caused some disruptions to the value chains in terms of raw materials and finished products and an increase in flight costs has also contributed to economic challenges.

Gwengwe also said the country is going through readjustment processes because there were things that had gone “completely wrong in the previous regimes.

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