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Inflation surges to 9.4 percent

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Lauryn Nyasulu

Headline inflation for March 2021 went up by 1.1 percentage points to 9.4 percent from 8.3 percent in February, figures from the National Statistics Office (NSO) show.

This is the fourth month in a row that inflation has increased since registering a drop in November 2020 to 7.3 percent from 7.5 percent in October 2020.

This means the Reserve Bank of Malawi has missed its medium-term inflation target of 5 percent or 7 percent upper limit by end of first quarter of 2021.

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Food and non-food inflation was seen at 11.7 and 6.9 percent, respectively.

The urban month-to-month inflation rate stood at 0.6 percent where urban food and non-food inflation stand at 0.8 and 0.4 percent, respectively.

In an interview Monday, Economics Association of Malawi (Ecama) President Lauryn Nyasulu attributed the increase to the upward adjustment in fuel prices and the increased prices of food commodities.

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Earlier last month, the Malawi Energy Regulatory

Authority (Mera) adjusted fuel prices upwards by about 17.35 percent, leading to a surge in cost of some goods and services.

Nyasulu, however, expressed optimism that the situation would change as the harvest season gets to the peak.

“In the next few months, we do not expect such as an increase,” she said.

Finance Minister Felix Mlusu projected the 2021 annual headline inflation at 7.4 percent, with a December 2021 inflation projected at around 7.0 percent.

Figures he provided when presenting the mid-term budget statement to Parliament recently show that non-food inflation has been oscillating at around 5.0 percent since the beginning of 2019.

In 2019, RBM started implementing a three-year strategic plan in which it set an ambitious 5 percent inflation target to be achieved by the end of the first quarter of 2021.

In February last year, the central bank adopted what it calls a symmetric band of 2.0 percentage points around the point target of its inflation projection.

This means when setting an inflation target, the central bank will aim at maintaining the rate within a range of plus or minus 2.

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