CAMA says Government must not attribute scarcity of maize and its high prices to war in Ukraine or CoVID-19

* Must consider reducing the price of maize and ensure that the market has enough stocks during this tough economic period

* Prices of maize are already high and consumers are struggling to afford the current market prices

* Introducing high prices of maize is declaring war on innocent Malawians who are experiencing one of the worst high cost of living

By Duncan Mlanjira

Following the decision by the Ministry of Agriculture to increase the price of maize at a time when the prices are already high, Consumers Association of Malawi (CAMA) has appealed to the Government not to attribute price increases of basic commodities to war in Ukraine or CoVID-19 as it has always attributed so.

War in Ukraine

Thus, CAMA is appealing to government, through the Ministry of Agriculture, to consider reducing the price of maize and ensure that the market has enough stocks during this tough economic period, saying “introducing high prices of maize is declaring war on innocent Malawians”.

“Prices of maize are already high and consumers are struggling to afford the current market prices as they are experiencing one of the worst high cost of living,” says a statement from CAMA Executive Director, John Kapito.

“We were expecting Government to introduce maize prices that would take into consideration the current economic challenges being faced by consumers.

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“Government is aware that most consumers are going through the worst economic and social challenges and we didn’t expect Government to be such insensitive by announcing higher maize prices that have a huge negative economic implication on their welfare.

“Maize happens to be the staple food for Malawians and any price adjustments on the price of maize has huge negative implications on the cost of living. Most Malawians are unemployed, have no access to steady incomes and their salaries are extremely low to afford current maize prices.

“The negative impact of higher maize prices will result in serious negative health implications such malnutrition amongst all ages but more especially children and women.”

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Kapito goes further to implore on the government that it is “insensitive” on its part in adjusting maize prices “at a time when Malawians have no access to any financial resources”.

“The increase in the price of maize has also exposed contradicting policies of reducing hunger in the country where Government is willing to subsidize fertilizer prices and refuse to subsidize maize prices during a period of hunger,” Kapito said.

Following increase of prices on basic commodities that has come about due to devaluation the kwacha by 25% and the increase of fuel prices, Malawians keep on organising demonstrations to voice out their dissatisfaction of President Lazarus Chakwera’s Malawi Congress Party administration.

Demonstrations

There are unconfirmed reports that the government is considering devaluating the kwacha by a further 25% while fuel is also anticipated to go higher than the current K1,999 per litre for petrol — which was increased from K1,380 in June; diesel from K1,470 per litre to K1,920 and paraffin from K956 to K1,236.

This comes from a statement made soon after the price increase in June by National Oil Company of Malawi (NOCMA) deputy chief executive officer, Helen Buluma when she defended the astronomic fuel price increase, in which she alluded that the prices are cheaper in Malawi.

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She told the media that petrol was supposed to be at K3,500 per litre as of June than the pegged K1,999, saying prices of fuel on the international market keep increasing on daily basis but NOCMA cushions it by covering the difference between the actual price of fuel and the prices set by Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (MERA).

She was quoted by the media as saying NOCMA has spent K68 billion in covering the difference over the past three months of June, saying prices on the international market will continue to increase and the June price hike was not enough while attributing the Ukraine-Russian war as “been a major contributor of fuel hike by twice the price we had towards the end of last year”.

“As such, we can only import from the Gulf region which is already on high demand due to European competition,” she was quoted as saying.

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