Rising cost of living hits consumers hard

John Kapito

Malawians continue digging deeper in their pockets to sustain their livelihoods as the cost of living in households continues rising.

Figures from the Employers Consultative Association of Malawi (Ecam) show a household of at least six people was spending K346,530 in April from K328,940 in the preceding month.

This comes at a time headline inflation—the rate at which prices of commodities change at a given period in an economy—has also been on an upward spiral in the past months.


In January 2022, for instance, headline inflation was seen at 12.1 percent and went up to 13 percent February before accelerating further by 1.1 percentage points to 14.1 percent in March.

According to the employers’ mouthpiece, prices for food items such as maize, cassava, beans, rice, eggs, onions, sugar, and bread have been rising at an alarming rate.

The report further reveals that other price increases have been noticed in commodities such as charcoal, bath soap, wash soap, matches, body lotion, glycerin and Vaseline, among others.


Ecam also indicates that most of the items above have been affected by the hike in the pump price of fuel, which has influenced transport costs to rise by an average of 13.14 percent.

“Most of the items above have been affected by the hike in the pump price of fuel, which has seen the price of a litre of diesel jumping by 31.25 percent to K1,470 from K1,120. The hike has also seen the cost of a litre of petrol leaping by 20 percent from K1,150 to K1,380 while that of paraffin has risen by 14.74 percent from K833.20 to K956,” the report says.

Meanwhile, Consumers Association of Malawi Executive Director John Kapito has said the reflection on the ground is indeed that the cost of living is sharply rising.

Kapito added that, if not controlled, the situation will escalate to acute poverty for a bigger population than it is now because people’s income, with the minimum wage at K50,000, cannot sustain them for long.

“Poverty will deepen among Malawians because they can no longer stand the cost of living and the poverty will hit harder on the urban masses because their lives solely depend on their income,” he said.

Centre for Social Concern Programmes Coordinator responsible for economic governance Bernard Mphepo said Malawians should brace for tough times ahead.

“It does not make sense to have the cost of living at such figures and having the minimum wage at K50,000 and the tax free band at K100,000. Therefore, the government should move with trends and adjust accordingly,” Mphepo said.

In a bid to control inflation, the Reserve Bank of Malawi Monetary Policy Committee tightened the policy rate, increasing it to 14 percent from 12 percent to control the flow of income.

The Reserve Bank of Malawi revised upwards its annual average inflation target by 1.9 percentage points to 12.3 percent.

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