Chakwera’s economic measures start paying off as prices of essential goods go down

Malawians have expressed excitement with the drop in prices of essential goods and services, as this will translate into more savings and improved socio-economic livelihoods.

The drop in prices of essential commodities is a result of the policies and measures President Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera and his government announced that his government have been pursuing in his efforts to heal the economy.

Spot checks indicate that prices of sugar, cement and maize have started going down. This corroborates with President Chakwera said in his New Year’s address to mark the start of 2024 when the Malawi leader sympathized with Malawians over the rise in the cost of living, which was triggered by the devaluation of the Malawi kwacha.

He nevertheless assured that his government was taking necessary measures to bring down the cost of living. And barely three months into the year, Malawians have already started experiencing relief following the drop in prices of essential commodities.

A survey by the Catholic-based Centre for Social Concern’s (CfSC) on the cost of living analysis indicates that there has been a substantial decline in the cost of living.

It says this contrasts with the preceding period from December 2023 to January 2024 where a substantial surge of 7.8 percent to K491 037 was observed.

During the month under review, Lilongwe experienced a significant downturn of 16.4 percent, Zomba maintained stability, Blantyre witnessed a modest decline of 3.8 percent, Mzuzu recorded a marginal increase of 2.4 percent while Mangochi experienced a notable decrease of 14.3 percent.

During the review period, Karonga emerged as a focal point with a significant surge of 11.8 percent in maize prices, likely amplifying the cost of living for households.
Reads the CfSC report: “Delving deeper, it becomes evident that maize, a staple commodity deeply entrenched in Malawian livelihoods, stands as the linchpin influencing these fluctuations.

“The fluctuations in maize prices underscore its pivotal role as a determinant of the cost of living in Malawi. Understanding these dynamics empowers policymakers and stakeholders to devise targeted interventions aimed at mitigating economic vulnerabilities and fostering sustainable livelihoods for communities across the nation.”

The centre says reducing maize prices and ensuring a continued reduction in the cost of living among low-income earners in Malawi requires a multi-faceted approach that involves various government policies and interventions.

Among others, the centre has suggested continued and possibly expanded agricultural subsidies and market regulation to prevent price manipulation, market information systems to provide farmers with timely information and diversification of agricultural production beyond maize to reduce dependency on a single crop and mitigate the impact of maize price fluctuations on the cost of living.

Consumers Association of Malawi (CAMA) Executive Director, John Kapito, described the development as a ‘great relief’ to consumers.

Kapito said any maize price surge is a threat to consumers, given the significance of maize in the country’s Consumer Price Index (CPI), an aggregate basket of consumer goods and services used for computing inflation.

“Any rise in maize prices comes as a blow because this ultimately pushes up prices of everything,” said Kapito.

As part of the food component, maize contributes about 53.7 percent of the CPI, which means any movement in the price of maize has a direct bearing on consumers.

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