Malawians have expressed concern over the continued rise in prices of essential goods and services,
Months after the Tonse Alliance came into power, prices of goods, especially consumables, are escalating at what economists term to be ‘alarming rate.’
In Mzuzu, prices of cooking oil seem to be adjusted upwards at every day break and, at times, at the split of a millisecond.
Through a voxpop interview this reporter conducted on Thursday to seek views from common citizens on economic trends in the country, many described the status quo as drooping, dreading and worrisome.
“Imagine, a 1 litre bottle of cooking oil, the common ones, is now selling at MK1,700. Tomorrow, we might have and adjustment. Everything is astronomical. This is worrisome to us as common citizens,” whined Jeremiah Soko, resident of Zolozolo township, Mzuzu.
About a year ago, a 2 litre bottle of cooking oil was costing K2000 but now consumers have to part ways with K4000. Prices of bread, salt and sugar have also gone up.
Added Jonathan Mlotha, a resident of Chiputula; “Due to the surge in prices of goods, rentals and all other basic necessities have been hiked. This is bad timing. We are victims of Coronavirus adversities and being clobbered with such bad economic whip is unbearable.”
Malawi is among the poorest countries in the world. About 80% of the citizens are in indescribable poverty as they are living below $1 a day.
“In fact, most of us, aren’t even living under a dollar a day. Maybe $0.001. the situation is very agonizing. It’s tougher than before,” lamented Chigomezgo Nyirenda, resident of Mchengautuwa.
Recent inflation figures indicate a rise by about 3% as it hovers around double figures.
Economic expert, Hurry Chima of Chimango consultancy warned, in an interview, things would go worse in the upcoming months.
“There are many contributing factors to the unstableness of inflation and the bad economy. One of it is, in fact, a cliche. The GDP. A country that imports more than its exports is best known by high inflations and economic instabilities,” he said.
“Adverse effects of Covid-19 can, as well, not be left unmentioned.”
Meanwhile, the economic trends have, among others, also rendered thousands of people jobless following massive retrenchments in most private companies that are making huge loses.
Finance minister, Felix Mlusu is, however, upbeat, things would come back to normal soon. Through what he describes as a pro-poor budget, the minister believes Malawians will benefit to the core.
Critics of the budget, such as the opposition Democratic Progressive Party, argue that the government has not reduced tax on essential commodities and has not shown commitment to stabilize the Kwacha hence prices will continue to go up.