Consumers rue lack of reversal effects on Malawi market

Consumers have bemoaned the constant lack of reversal effects on the market which authorities and the business community continue to ignore despite changes in the country’s economic fundamentals.

Some of the consumers have argued that the basis for rising commodity prices on the market which was pegged on the cost of fuel and the US dollar have changed and it must also follow that traders should drop prices as well.

Kapito: Tricky
Kapito: Tricky

Between 2011 to last year the Kwacha lost its value trading up to K490 per dollar and this was the basis for most businesses to increase prices for services and products.

“But the Kwacha has now gained against major foreign currencies and it is now selling at an average of K409 for each US dollar. Apart from this fuel price have been stable to the extent that a reduction has been made recently, still this is not reflective on commodity prices on the market, we are laymen yes but what kind of economics is this?,” complained Ralph Phiri, an entrepreneur based in Salima.

Consumers Association of Malawi (Cama) acknowledged that indeed this was odd while also notifying the public that they have been making efforts to the business sector on the matter.

Cama Executive Director John Kapito said the issue is tricky and sometimes sensitive to the point that some authorities do not want to discuss it because many people, businesses and public institutions are affected when prices rise or fall.

“As a consumer rights body we have tried numerous times to push the business sector and government on this matter but with little progress, the reason is that, for example fuel, there are levies in there collected by government and any reduction would impact on this.

“As for the Kwacha gaining we have been told by the private sector that there are several factors they consider when pricing goods and it is not only forex and fuel,” said Kapito.

An official from the Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) said although justification of recent price increases are pinned to stability of the kwacha and fuel, Malawi is a liberalised market therefore decisions on pricing of goods cannot be determined by any authority.

In the same line, the Minibus Owners Association of Malawi (Moam) has said it will not come up with fares for its members as it was in accordance with the competition and fair trading laws.

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