THE annual rate of inflation has again increased to 19.2 per cent in December, up from 17.4 per cent recorded in November, mainly induced by huge price increases in food items, the highest on record since August, 2016, according to the Zambia Statistics Agency (ZSA).

Announcing Zambia’s annual rate of inflation for the month of December, ZSA Interim Statistician General Mulenga Musepa disclosed that the increased inflation in December was largely driven by significant price increases in food items, which include meat and fish.

“The year-on-year inflation rate as measured by the all items Consumer Price Index (CPI) for December, 2020, increased to 19.2 per cent from 17.4 per cent recorded in November, 2020. This means that on average, prices of goods and services increased by 19.2 per cent between December, 2019, and December, 2020. The increase in the annual rate of inflation was attributed to price increases in food items,” Musepa told journalists via video conference in Lusaka, Thursday.

“The annual food inflation for December 2020 was recorded at 20.2 per cent compared to 16.8 per cent recorded in November 2020, an increase of 3.4 percentage points. This development was mainly attributed to increase in prices of food items, such as fish; meats; fats and oil; vegetables; fresh and sour milk.”

The country’s non-food inflation on the other hand, however, registered a marginal drop.

“The annual non-food inflation for December, 2020 was recorded at 18.1 per cent compared to 18.2 per cent in November, 2020. The slowdown in the inflation rate was mainly attributed to price movements in items, such as cement, clear glass, car battery, CV joints,” said Musepa.

Of the total 19.2 per cent annual inflation rate recorded in December, the food and non-alcoholic beverages group accounted for 11.0 percentage points, while non-food items accounted for 8.2 percentage points, with the transport group having contributed the highest at 2.7 percentage points, followed by housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels at 2.5 percentage points.

ZSA data shows that Zambia’s annual rate of inflation of 19.2 per cent recorded in the final month of the year peaked to an over four-year high since August, 2016, when inflation was at 19.6 per cent, reducing to 12.5 per cent in October, 2016, before it dropped to close that year at 7.5 per cent.

So far, the highest annual rate of inflation remains at 22.9 per cent recorded back in February, 2016, a period of sustained price hikes in essential food and non-food items ahead of the general election.