NSO blankets Malawi consumers plight

Malawi National Statistical Office (NSO) through its monthly inflation rate report has veiled the real hardship that consumers are currently encountering in the country.

Data from the NSO shows that the rate at which goods prices are progressing on the market, inflation, has only increased by 0.1 percent.

In its statement issued this week, NSO indicates that the national inflation rate jumped to 7.7 percent year-on-year in September from 7.6 percent in August.

The NSO says Malawi’s Consumer Prices Index consists of commodity prices and services and the organisation has attributed the rise to high non-food prices.

Local market: Inflation rise due to the continued increase in the price of non-food items

NSO pegged the urban inflation rate for September at 9.8 percent and rural area at 6.5 percent respectively.

But this is in sharp contrast with the economic situation on the ground as the country has been experiencing price jumps in foods and commodities due to transportation challenges which have been driven up by fuel scarcity and other micro-economic challenges such currency instability.

This fact is supported by faith based body, Centre for Social Concern (CfSC) which indicates in its September report that consumers are feeling the pinch of the devalued Kwacha as increases in the prices of goods and services are increasingly and negatively contributing to the reduced purchasing power of the Kwacha.

The Kwacha is officially trading at K172 per US$1 but on the black market the value is over K220 per US$1.

“An increase in the general level of prices in September implies that reality of the devalued kwacha is biting hard on the consumers, revealing the decrease in the purchasing power of the currency. Entailing that when the general level of prices rises, each monetary unit buys fewer goods and services,” CSC says.

In its basic needs basket, the average cost of living for a family of six in the four of Zomba, Blantyre, Mzuzu and Lilongwe cities stood at K56,032 in September, compared with K46,334.75 during the comparable period last year, representing a considerable increase of 17 percent increase.

This coupled with transport costs which have sky-rocketed by around 50 percent in the cities has put consumers on an acute and tight cash squeezed corner a development which is not recorded by NSO.

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