Spot checks in some of the mega grocery shops in the country’s major cities have indicated that prices of cooking oil have not changed yet despite expectations that removal of Value Added Tax (Vat) on the commodity would be effected on April 1.
The spot checks further revealed that locally produced cooking oil is in short supply in such grocery shops.
One of the shop managers in Blantyre, who did not want to be named, said: “We have run out of stock; even in our warehouses, we do not have any locally produced cooking oil.”
On the prices, he said it is highly likely that the prices will be maintained to cushion imminent rises in the near future.
Cooking Oil Processors Association President Peter Ngoma said the association was working towards making the necessary adjustments.
“I have just received the gazetted law from the Principal Secretary of Trade and shared it with colleagues in the industry. We are working on it. We are law-abiding processors; so, we will do what the law says but I cannot put a day to it; that you may see changes on this particular day,” Ngoma said.
Marketing and Communications Manager for the Malawi Revenue Authority Wilma Chalulu asked for more time before she could comment on the matter.
Minister of Finance Sosten Gwengwe referred us to the Minister of Trade Mark Katsonga Phiri who, ironically, also asked for more time to follow up with Treasury saying he had just arrived in the country and was not aware the changes had been gazetted.
Presenting the 2022- 23 National Budget, Gwengwe said Malawians should know that the key contributing factor to the high cooking oil prices is the huge increase in prices of raw materials that are used for the production of cooking oil, most of which are imported.
“Regardless, government has henceforth decided to exempt cooking oil from VAT. It is my belief that this gesture will be reciprocated by the cooking oil manufacturing companies by reducing cooking oil prices hence-forth,” Gwengwe said.
Prices of cooking oil have been on the rise, reaching 38.4 percent in the last 10 weeks.
Currently, a 2 litre bottle of cooking oil is fetching between K6, 200 and K7, 200 depending on the shop and the brand of the cooking oil from an average of K4, 500 in January.
A five litre bottle is now being sold at between K16, 500 and K18, 000.