Increased Interest Rates amidst Rising Inflation Worrying. JCTR ZAMBIA Press Release 11th November, 2015


JCTR Website LogoThe Central Statistical Office in its October press release announced an increase in inflation of 6.6 percentage points. The October inflation of 14.3 percent is almost double the September inflation of 7.7 percent. The sharp increased has been blamed on the depreciating Kwacha. To many Zambians, the increase is not a surprise but a confirmation of the escalating commodity prices most of which have more than doubled in the last few weeks.

The October Basic Needs Basket for a family of five living in Lusaka as measured by the Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR) exhibited a very similar trend reflecting an increase of K302.1 from K3, 957.46 in September to K4, 249.56. Costs contributing to this was almost all of the food commodities (i.e. 12 out of the 15 food items had seen a rise in cost, the highest being that of Kapenta that saw a K50 increase). In comparison to the Lusaka October 2014 BNB (which stood at K3, 635.83) there has been a rise of over K600 (16.8% increase). It is also the first time that the Lusaka Basic Needs Basket has breached the K4, 000 barrier and thus a cause for concern to JCTR. This development is of great concern especially that the depreciation of the Kwacha continues unabated. The continued deficit in energy supply and the resultant decline in productivity will make recovery in cost of living even more difficult.  

In response to the rising inflation Bank of Zambia has raised the policy rate from 12.5 percent to 15.5 percent and also lifted the cap on lending rates by commercial banks. This monetary policy instrument is meant to curb the rising inflation and keep it within the single digit target for the year.  This raises one key concern in the midst of rising cost of doing business and declining productivity. While the policy may slow down inflation in the short run, it may further stifle productivity as investors hold back their investment due to increased cost of credit. Reduced productivity may in turn result in inflation through reduced supply of commodities. The Bank of Zambia should therefore balance well the need for low inflation and sustaining productivity. The move to raise interest rates will also hurt individuals with personal loans that have flexible interest rates as they will be required to repay their loans at the new rates. 

At a time of crisis like this the JCTR urges government to combine well its policy response to the current economic situation and not always trying to find quick fixes. Recently Government offloaded its reserves on to the market to protect the Kwacha from further depreciation but the Kwacha continues to depreciate and is currently trading at 14.02 (as noted on BoZ website). While these measures may yield temporal relief by way of dealing with the symptom of the problem and not the cause, Government needs to look at the bigger picture by devising long term solutions that lie in diversifying the economy. Raising of interest rate does not seem to be a good recipe for this long term approach to addressing the country’s current economic challenges such as improving value addition and growing our manufacturing industry.

December 2014 JCTR – BNB and Press Release – Zambia


JCTR LusakaBread basket November 2014Press Release 11th December 2014

Fuel Pump Price Reduction Insignificant Says the JCTR

The Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection has dismissed the recent fuel pump price reductions in the country as being insignificant and too marginal. Whereas the price of crude oil on the international market has dropped significantly around 27 Percent during the last half of the year on account of oversupply originating from international stock build-up from the steady increase in fuel self – sufficiency of the United States as the highest international consumer.

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November 2014 JCTR – BNB and Press Release – Zambia


JCTR LusakaGreetings from JCTR,
We are happy as always to share with you the end of October 2014 Basic Needs Basket for Lusaka and accompanying Press Release. We hope this information is helpful for you.
Mwiinga Shimilimo (Miss), Media and Information Officer
Press Release, 7th November 2014
PROMOTION OS SOCIAL JUSTICE MUST LIVE ON SAYS JCTR
As Zambia mourns the passing of the late president H.E Michael Chilufya Sata, it is important to acknowledge the strides made by the late president and the PF government in the area of infrastructure development and efforts to enable workers afford a decent cost of living by implementing the minimum wage and raising the tax free threshold. It goes without saying that the efforts made will go a long way in boosting the positive economic growth that the country has been experiencing for the past 10 years. However for this growth to have lasting benefits it must significantly translate into poverty alleviation for the majority of Zambians that are living in poverty. The high poverty levels of 60.5% living below the poverty line indicate the extent of hardships currently being experienced by households in accessing basic needs and these hardships are much more severe in the rural parts of Zambia where 77.9% of the population are living in poverty.
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JCTR BASIC NEEDS BASKET: LUSAKA

Lusaka BNB January 2014 and Press Release


JCTR LusakaPress Release, 11th February 2014
Increased debt amidst high cost of living a cause for concern
Lately, there have been statements by senior government officials commenting on the state of debt levels in the country. The comments have partly been assurances that the current debt stock is sustainable.
Various sections of society have expressed fears that the country’s debt stock is increasing to levels that may become unsustainable. While the government has made several assurances that the nation’s debt levels are within manageable limits, it is important that the government is seen to contract and manage debt in ways that do not potentially worsen the livelihoods of the majority poor.  If debt being contracted is not prudently invested on high return projects to enable debt repayment without compromising social sector spending, then debt contraction even in the current sustainable debt levels is a source of concern. Increasing debt levels now also imply higher future taxes on the already heavily taxed workers and consequently a higher cost of living.
Press Release
BNB January 2014

Lusaka BNB October 2013 and Press Release


JCTR LusakaGreetings from JCTR
We are happy as always to share with you the 2013 October Basic Needs Basket for Lusaka and accompanying press release. We hope this information is helpful for you.
To get more on this and other JCTR activities, please visit our website or contact us on the address and numbers indicated below. We also invite you to visit our well stocked resource room for your research and other information needs.
Do not hesitate to contact us if you have questions, requests or comments.
We always appreciate your feedback on how you are using the Basket.
Namundi Siwale
Acting Information Officer
Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection
Press Release
BNB October 2013

JCTR urges caution on 2013 budget management


JCTR LusakaPress Release 15thAugust 2013
On Sunday 11 August, 2013, the Minister of Finance Honourable Alexander Chikwanda, held a briefing on fiscal and other treasury matters. The briefing was partly in response to various concerns bordering on the performance of the 2013 budget thus far. 
Different sections of society have expressed fears suggesting a looming or actual budget deficit beyond the 2013 budget provision of 4.5% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). “While the government made assurances that the perceived budget deficit is within manageable limits, it is important that the government is seen to manage the deficit in ways that do not worsen the livelihoods of the majority poor’’, notes Daniel Mutale, Social Conditions programme manager. READ MORE
JCTR BASIC NEEDS BASKET Lusaka July 2013

JCTR urges government to tackle escalating cost of food


JCTR LusakaPress Release, 9th July 2013

JCTR urges government to tackle escalating cost of food

In May 2013, government sequentially scrapped off fuel and maize subsidies contending that the measure would free resources for infrastructure development and poverty reduction among others. This change in subsidies has generated a debate with various actors voicing varying views.

At household level, the effects of the subsidies removal on prices of basic commodities are still being felt two months afterwards. According to Daniel Mutale, Social conditions programme manager, ‘‘the effects of removal of subsidies on basic food items are deepening.’’ This calls for an urgent response to address the rising food costs. READ MORE

COST OF BASIC FOOD ITEMS FOR A FAMILY OF FIVE IN LUSAKA

JCTR calls for a holistic approach in tackling Mealie-meal prices.


JCTR LusakaPress Release, 5th April 2013

The affordability and accessibility of mealie-meal has been a topical issue for sometime. This is not surprising given that mealie-meal is a staple food for the majority Zambians. It is therefore not surprising that the commodity of such strategic importance continues to attract attention from various stakeholders. READ MORE

CfSC Basic Needs Basket Analytical report for January 2013 – Malawi


Rural Basic Needs Basket Analytical report for January 2013 in Malawi shows that the majority of rural households are poor since they are living below a dollar a day.
During the month of February, CfSC’s Rural BNB project conducted a Rapid Rural Appraisal in its operation areas to assess the availability and prices of maize. It was found out that maize prices ranged between MK 7000 and MK 10,000 a bag of 50 kg. This was too much expensive for a rural household. Those who had no or too little maize and money resorted into consuming maize bran. Those who had completely nothing, slept on an empty stomach or could even consume leafy vegetables only. READ MORE
Maize scacity bites rural population
Press statement published in the Daily Times of 21st March, 2013

CJTR Lusaka Press Release February 2013


JCTR LusakaJCTR Press Release 22 February 2013

Persistent late delivery of farming inputs harmful to food security, says the JCTR
Timely delivery of farming inputs such as seeds is crucial to ensuring a good harvest. The delivery of adequate and timely inputs by the government is important to many small-scale farmers who continue to heavily rely on the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP). This is why the delivery of farming inputs continues to attract attention from both the government and non-governmental stakeholders. READ MORE

BREAD BASKET JANUARY 2013