Inflation in worst 4-year start

ZAMBIA’S inflation is having its worst start in four years despite a marginal decrease from last month, the Central Statistics Office said yesterday. The annual rate of inflation rose to 7.7 per cent in January compared to 7.3 per cent at the start of last year.

It is the worst start to a year since 2011, CSO data showed. According to the data, inflation at the start of 2011 was 6.3 per cent but rose at the open of 2012 and 2013 to 6.4 per cent and 7.0 per cent, respectively. “Between January 2014 and January 2015, annual rate of inflation increased for clothing and footwear; furnishings, household equipment, but decreased for food and non-alcoholic beverages,” CSO acting director Goodson Sinyenga told journalists in Lusaka.

On a month-to-month, inflation however fell to 7.7 per cent in January from 7.9 per cent in December. A comparison of retail prices between December and January showed that the national average price of a 25 kilograme bag of breakfast mealie-meal increased by 0.5 per cent from K70.37 to K70.69 while a 2.5 litres container of cooking oil decreased by one per cent from K37.85 to K37.46.

The Energy Regulation Board recently reduced the pump price of fuel in line with the sharp fall in the international crude oil prices but consumer rights groups say essential commodity prices have not dropped. Petrol and Diesel prices have fallen from around K10 a litre last year to K7.60 and K6.59 per liter respectively, and Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS) International Lusaka believes the slide was big enough to have had a significant corresponding reduction on prices of essential goods. “High prices of essential commodities erode the household incomes of the country’s poor,” said Simon Ng’ona, CUTS national coordinator.

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