THE cost of living for a family of five has remained at over K7,000, mainly induced by high mealie meal prices that have registered steep rises in recent months, says the JCTR.

In the latest Basic Needs and Nutrition Basket (BNNB), JCTR announced that the cost of living for the mouth of October, 2020, stood at K7,060.29, reflecting a marginal reduction of K11.08 from September, which stood at K7,071.37.

However, the cost of mealie meal on the local market had sharply risen month-on-month to an average K187 per 25Kg breakfast bag, which kept the over cost of living high.

“The cost of living for a family of five, as measured by the JCTR for the month of October, 2020, stood at K7,060.29, a decline of K11.08 from the September basket of K7,071.37. The reduction in the basket can be attributed to reductions in some food items. Other fruits moved from K261.19 to K206.65 for 14Kg, showing a reduction of K54.54, kapenta reduced by K40.22 moving from K231.62 to K191.40 per Kg, banana reduced from K181.66 to K163.57 showing a decline of K18.09, soya pieces reduced by K14.97 moving from K104.85 to K89.88. These reductions where, however, offset by increases in items, such as mealie meal, which moved from K164.85 in September to K187.28 showing an increase of K22.43; vegetables increased by K16.23 moving from K413.96 in September to K430.19 in October,” read a statement availed by JCTR social and economic development manager Chama Bowa-Mundia.

“From the non-food but essential items, petroleum jelly increased by K39.49 moving from K31.00 in September to K70.49 in October and the price of charcoal increased by K18.67 moving from K273.33 to K292.00. Undoubtedly, individuals, households and firms are facing significant challenges given the prevailing context. The JCTR, therefore, calls on government to address the key challenges that the nation is facing. For one, the shortage of fuel needs to be urgently addressed given the important role it plays in facilitating various economic activities.”

And the JCTR also called on government to focus on resolving the ongoing macroeconomic challenges, such as high inflation, that contributed towards increasing the cost of living.

“The Centre also continues to put emphasis on the need to guard against increases in macroeconomic variables, such as inflation, which further erodes the disposable incomes of households, thereby, compromising living standards. The JCTR reiterates the need to rein in an expansionary fiscal stance that has over the years threatened the delivery of robust and inclusive social and economic development. In our quest for a better Zambia, the poor and the marginalised must not be ignored,” stated JCTR.