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Rocketing prices shock Trade Minister

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WORRIED—Katsonga (left) and ministry officials appreciate the price of soap at Shoprite

Trade and Industry Minister Mark Katsonga Phiri has expressed worry with how traders are hiking prices of basic commodities.

Katsonga Phiri was speaking in Lilongwe on Wednesday when he visited supermarkets such as Shoprite, Game, Chipiku and Sana.

He said it was shocking to note that prices for basic commodities such as salt, laundry soap, sugar and cooking oil have risen astronomically, some as high as 100 percent, since last year.

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“We are not saying that they should not make profits or they should make losses, no. What we are saying is that the price increases should be justifiable.

“A price increase of up to 100 percent is not justifiable,” Katsonga Phiri said.

Katsonga Phiri said his ministry will soon bring manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers to a roundtable to stop them from crushing Malawians with exorbitant prices.

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He, however, expressed happiness that the supply of basic commodities has increased on the market.

Competition and Fair- Trading Commission (CFTC) acting Executive Director Apoche Itimu said the aim of the tour was to ensure that traders are not violating the rights of buyers.

“We were simply conducting a price monitoring exercise. It’s part of our mandate to ensure that consumers are not taken advantage of. As you know, there have been sharp increases of basic prices.

“So, it is important for us to make sure that those price increases do not amount to abuse of consumer rights,” Itimu said.

Sana Cash and Carry General Manager Kalebe Mzikabuma blamed rising prices on the equally higher prices offered by manufacturers.

“It starts from the manufacturers and passed on to retailers. So, the solution needs to start with the manufacturers,” Mzikabuma said.

In May last year, the Reserve Bank of Malawi effected a 25 percent devaluation of the Kwacha, a development that fueled a significant jump on prices of basic commodities.

Inflation, the general increase in prices and fall in the purchasing value of money, declined to 25.8 percent in November last year.

It represents a 0.9 percentage point decline when compared to the 26.7 percent recorded in October 2022.

A Consumer Price Index for November released by the NSO showed that food and non-food inflation rates were seen at 33.4 and 17.7 percent, respectively.

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