Lusaka remains the most expensive city for a family of five as the cost of living in the capital city is still way above K5,000, according to the Jesuit Centre of Theological Reflection.

In a statement, the JCTR stated that the cost of living last month in its Basic Needs Basket (BNB) only marginally reduced to K5,433.00 from K5,575 in March, triggered by nominal price increases in essential food and non-food items.

March’s cost remains unprecedented, the highest-ever recorded, since the inception of their Basic Needs Basket (BNB), which shot up from K5,385 for a family of five living in Lusaka recorded in February this year.

The BNB normally takes into account the cost of living for a family of five across 15 major urban towns in the country.

Data shows that Lusaka remains the highest in terms of cost of living, with Ndola in second place at K4,967, while Kabwe’s cost of living for a family of five is pegged at K4,675.

“The April 2018 JCTR BNB for a family of five living in Lusaka stood at K5,433.00, which was K142.00 less than the March BNB, which stood at K5,575.00. The most significant reduction was noted in the price of kapenta, which decreased by K55 from K237 in March to K183 in April per kg. Tomato prices decreased by K9 from K26 in March to K17 in April per kg; charcoal decreased by K12 from K152 in March to K140 in April per 90kg bag. Mealie-meal decreased by K2 from K76 in March to K74 in April. The price of kapenta decreased because of the product’s increased availability on the market. Increased supply of tomatoes and charcoal on the market pushed down prices of the two commodities,” JCTR stated in a press release issued via its social & economic development programme officer, Chanda Paul Chileshe, Thursday.

According to Chileshe, the JCTR stated that there is widening gap between income and the cost of living in Zambia that has denied social justice to the majority of citizens.

“According to the 2015 Living Conditions Monitoring Survey, the average monthly income for Zambian households was K1,801.30. In the last two years, the gap between average monthly income and Lusaka cost of living, which is now at K5,433.00 has steadily been widening. The widening gap between income and cost of living is denying social justice,” JCTR stated.

JCTR, the renowned Catholic­run organisation, appealed to government to quickly revise the minimum wages in a bid to reduce poverty among the vulnerable section of society in the country.

“The Centre strongly urges government to prioritize the enactment of strict laws in the employment and labour sector that will protect workers from being exploited by their employers. Implementation of the minimum wage law and stakeholder consultation should be key before and after the revision process. We further recommend government to speed up the revision of the minimum wage and to consider the inflationary fluctuations which have taken place since the last revision,” JCTR appealed.

“Government should revise minimum wages according to sectors so that no vulnerable worker is left out in any sector.”

JCTR further urged government to prioritize the enactment of strict laws in the employment and labour sector to protect workers from exploitation by their employers.