Cost of living in Malawi’s cities is still rising and enormously affecting consumers, according to the Centre for Social Concern (CfSC).
According to CfSC data released on Monday, to meet basic food and non food essentials excluding transport, school fees and clothes among others, a household of six members must spend at least K88 737 per month in Lilongwe, K83 074 in Blantyre, K75 613 in Mzuzu, and K70 631 in Zomba.
The November report compared to the previous report indicates that the average cost of living in the four cities has increased by about two percent from K77 983 to K79 158 per month.
The cost of living per month in Lilongwe, the highest among the four cities, rose the highest by a margin of three percent from K86 193 to K88 737, Blantyre from K81 595 to K83 074, Zomba from K69 544 to K70 631 and in Mzuzu from K74 600 to K75 613.
CfSC social conditions research programme officer Alex Nkosi in an interview last week lamented that people’s incomes have been eroded by the devaluation and the subsequent floatation of the kwacha and the consequent rise in the cost of living.
“The impact on consumers is enormous. Most people cannot afford to meet their basic needs because of the rise in the cost of living which has not been matched by increases in salaries.
“The situation is also being worsened by scarcity of fuel and foreign exchange which is pushing up the costs further and hurting consumers in the process,” said Nkosi.
He explained that with the scarcity of fuel and foreign exchange, people are being forced to go on the parallel market which is more expensive noting that the fundamentals of our economy have not been restored yet.
The CfSC November data, which contains costs for food and non food essentials, indicates that in Lilongwe, a bag of maize, a staple food to many households, was going at K3 471, Zomba (K3 600), Blantyre (K3 958) and Mzuzu (K2 750).
The report also indicates that to meet food needs, it costs K45 000 in Lilongwe, K41 553 in Zomba, K47 278 in Blantyre and K45 959 in Mzuzu per month.
On the other hand, to meet non food essentials, it costs a household K43 573 in Lilongwe, K29 078 in Zomba, K35 796 in Blantyre and K29 654 in Mzuzu per month.
Spot checks in some markets in Blantyre indicate that maize prices are way above those shown in the report.
For instance, last week, a 50kg bag of maize at Ndirande Market was selling at about K4 200, Lunzu at K4 500 and Mdeka at K5 000.
However, explaining the differences, Nkosi said the prices in the report are average prices and cover a number of markets pointing out that in Blantyre, the data cover eight markets.
Since devaluation and flotation of the kwacha, inflation has been on the rise and it is one of the highest in the world.
Reacting to news that Malawi’s October 30.6 percent inflation is fourth highest in the world, Consumers Association of Malawi (Cama) John Kapito said it was unfortunate that we are at par with war torn countries noting that people do not have enough disposable incomes.