Press Release 6th June 2013
JCTR CALLS GOVERMENT TO SYSTEMATICALLY CURB RISING COST OF LIVING
Last month, government scrapped off subsidies on fuel and maize citing high unsustainable expenditure. Government contended that the measure was a move in the right direction as more resources would be freed for infrastructure development among others. Effectively, the move has translated into increased commodity prices inviting different reactions from various sections of society.
The JCTR has repeatedly acknowledged that subsidies are not only costly but also unsustainable interventions. ‘While it is agreeable that subsidies are neither sustainable nor long-term solutions, the problem of high cost of living as a result of the high cost of fuel and mealie-meal remains unresolved,’ notes Daniel Mutale, JCTR’s social conditions programme manager.
The cost of living for the month of May 2013 as measured by the JCTR’s Basic Needs Basket for an average family of five living in Lusaka stood at KR 3,625.20. This shows an increase of KR31.60 from April’s cost of living which was KR3, 593.60. Given that fuel is an integral input, the increased price of fuel resulted in price increases of commodities such as Sugar, Kapenta, Onions, and Tomatoes which rose from KR14.70 to KR15.90, KR98. 10 to KR115, KR 8.20 to KR 11.20 and KR4.20 to KR5.80, respectively.
As the increase in fuel costs continues to broaden the ripple effect, there is a likely further increase in prices of more basic commodities. It need not be over-emphasised that this might leave the already struggling majority poor worse-off thereby threatening household food security.
Although the removal of both fuel and maize subsidies by government is justifiable, the question of high commodity prices, partially resulting from this action, remains unresolved. ‘As immediate past experience with regards to mealie-meal pricing has shown the cost of living has been high with or without government intervention through subsidising maize or otherwise’, notes Mr. Mutale. The withdrawal of subsidies should be viewed broadly in the context of other factors affecting the cost of living in Zambia. The JCTR, therefore, calls government to go beyond the removal of subsidies and address other structural challenges that are responsible for the increasing cost of living in Zambia.
For more information, contact the Social Conditions Programme of
The Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection, P.O. Box 37774, 10101 Lusaka, Zambia
Tel: 260-211-290-410 Fax: 260-211-290-759 E-mail:
Location: 3813 Martin Mwamba Road, Olympia Park, Lusaka