The Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) has called for strong measures to cushion underprivileged and poor Malawians against the effects of the devaluation of the Malawi kwacha against the United States dollar.
The Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) devalued the local currency by 4 percent to the US dollar on Thursday, a development that has prompted the Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) to call upon the government to take a proactive approach to tame inflation and prioritise the general welfare of the citizenry.
CHRR Executive Director Michael Kaiyatsa said his organization has noted with deep concern the skyrocketing prices of goods and services following the devaluation, noting the price of daily basic necessities like food, fuel, and transport fares, which are fast getting out of reach for the ordinary Malawian and yet there is practically nothing the government has done so far to contain the situation.
“We demand that the government move with speed to introduce measures to contain the situation and protect the citizenry. The recent devaluation has plunged the country into a very volatile social and economic period which needs wise, fast-thinking, decisive and level political minded leaders to handle the situation with utmost care. CHRR notes that the devaluation, and the subsequent rise in prices, has come at a time many Malawians were already finding it hard to put food, a basic human right, on their tables. CHRR warns that the unfolding situation is unsustainable and can be a catalyst for civil unrest,” he said.
“We, therefore, call upon authorities to put in place strong measures to protect people’s jobs and purchasing power. It is sad to note that prices of goods and services are rising astronomically while salaries and wages remain stagnant. Already many workers have been relegated into the working poor by previous devaluations and the subsequent rising inflation. Many workers have been pushed below the poverty line due to deteriorating purchasing power. This is unacceptable. We note that Minister of Finance is expected to address the nation on Monday next week on measures government is putting in place to cushion the citizenry. But that may be too late considering that some businesses have already started adjusting prices upwards following the devaluation,” added Kaiyatsa.
Kaiyatsa further recommended that the government must consider introducing price caps to protect consumers, while ensuring that businesses remain profitable in the current circumstances, stressing that wages and salaries must be adjusted upwards to compensate for devaluation and rising inflation.
“Government must increase the number of people on social protection programmes. It is a fact that any reduction in social assistance would create more hardship for the poor, particularly against the backdrop of rising food prices,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs Simplex Chithyola Banda has disclosed that he will address the nation on what measures the government has put in place to cushion Malawians from the devaluation shocks.