National Statistical Office delays inflation figures for January
The National Statistical Office (NSO) has said it is in the process of rebasing the Consumer Price Index (CPI), adding that this has resulted in the delay to release inflation figures for January.
Traditionally, NSO releases inflation figures on the 15th day of the following month but, as of yesterday, it was yet to publish inflation figures for January.
NSO assistant Commissioner for Economics, Lizzie Chikoti, has confirmed the development.
“You are very correct that NSO releases inflation figures on the 15th of every month. This month, the delay is due to the rebasing exercise that we have been doing.
“There is a delay of at least one week,” Chikoti said.
Inflation was last recorded at 7.1 percent in December 2017. The delay in the release of inflation figures come at a time pressure has been mounting on food prices, resulting in a 70 percent jump in early February.
Briefing reporters in Mangochi last month, one of NSO officials, Alick Mphinda, said the rebasing will see NSO changing the base year for calculating inflation from 2012 to 2017.
The process could also see authorities changing the weighting of various items in the CPI to reflect consumers’ spending patterns.
Food is the major contributor to the CPI with a weighting of 50.2 percent, followed by housing and water at 14.7 percent.
Transport has a weighting of 6.6 percent, communication 5.8 percent, clothing and footwear 3.2 percent, miscellaneous 3 percent, alcoholic beverages 2.5 percent, recreation and culture 2.2 percent and health at 1.4 percent.
Chancellor College economics professor, Ben Kalua, said on Monday that it is crucial for economies to rebase inflation so that the figures reflect changes in spending patterns overtime.
Analysts have predicted that inflation could surge in the coming months due to the double impact of dry spell and the fall armyworm, which have affected many districts in the country, significantly lowering maize output.
But presenting the mid-year budget statement presented to Parliament on Friday, Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe said there is no food shortage in Malawi, adding that the calamitous effects of dry spells and the fall armyworm the country is experiencing could impact on the country much later.
“All that could be said now is that food shortages will occur in a number of areas in Malawi and that we should prepare measures to mitigate this likely food disaster,” Gondwe said.
The International Monetary Fund last week predicted that Malawi’s inflation would average 11 percent this year.