The Jesuit Center for Theological Reflection (JCTR) has warned of the worsening socio-economic crisis with the basic needs basket for a family of five in Lusaka going up to about K6,500.
And JCTR has noted that the socio-economic problems the country is facing are preventable and only a little bit of political will is be enough to address non-productivity of the economy, which has been prolonged by rampant load shedding and debt repayment.
The basic needs basket for other provincial capitals include; Kasama K3,965.76, Mansa K4,550.44, Mongu K3,753.48, Monze K4,741.37, Chipata K4,605.87, Luanshya K4,603.30, Kitwe K5,101.80, Kabwe K5,675.18, Choma K4,536.86, Chinsali K4,450.34 and Mazabuka at K4,241.56 for one month for a family of five.
In a press release, Wednesday, JCTR attributed the upward shift in the cost of living to a rise in prices of some food and non-food items.
“Releasing the November 2019 basket for a family of 5 living in Lusaka JCTR notes that a further increase in the cost of living during the month of November is worrying and is of great concern. The cost of living increased by K142 to K6, 481.17 in November compared to K6, 338.79 in October. The upward shift in the cost of living is largely attributed to a rise in prices of some food and non-food items. The price of mealie meal (roller) increased from K113 per 25kg in October to K132 per 25kg in November 2019. The price of onion increased from K13 per kg in October to K17 per kg in November 2019. The price of cooking oil increased from K54 per 2.5 litres to K56 per 2.5 litres. The price of charcoal increased from K128 per 90kg bag to K150 per 90kg,” read the press release.
“JCTR notes that the cost of food, particularly mealie meal, still accounts for much of the rising cost of living in Zambia. The increase is mainly attributed to the increased cost of production which has come about due to long hours of load shedding, a situation that has forced producers to invest in alternative sources of energy, inevitably pushing up production cost. Further, long hours of load shedding have created a high demand for charcoal.”
And the Centre stated that the weakening of the kwacha against major convertibles was likely to further negatively impact the prices of basic food and non-foods items.
“JCTR reckons that all these socio-economic problems are preventable given that Zambia has vast potential and several natural resources in all sectors to accord its citizens a good standard of living and a realization of a dignified existence. A little bit of political will should be enough to address non-productivity of the economy which has been prolonged by rampant load shedding and repayment of debt. The Kwacha has depreciated against major foreign currencies such as the US dollar. At the start of 2019, the exchange rate was around K11.89 to $1, and towards the end of the year has depreciated to over K15 to $1. The weakening of the local currency against major foreign currencies is likely going to further negatively affect the prices of basic food and non-foods items,” JCTR stated.
“Zambia is currently facing numerous socio-economic challenges. These include: hunger, depreciation of the local currency, empty public coffers due to debt servicing, high cost of living, etc. These difficulties have been compounded by leadership gaps at all levels and a lack of political will to set and adhere to priorities that are of benefit to the majority of the population. This situation continues to negatively affect lives of many ordinary Zambians.”
Meanwhile, JCTR `has urged government to urgently address the energy deficit and Kwacha depreciation.
“In view of these socio- economic challenges facing our country, JCTR commends the government for embarking on power importation. In the long term, we urge the government to address the problem of energy deficit by seriously investing in alternative and renewable sources of energy as reliance on hydro-electricity will continue to be a challenge in the wake of climate change. We also call on the government to work with various stakeholders to put in place measures to address fiscal factors that have led to depreciation of our local currency,” stated JCTR.