Cost of living in Lusaka up by 17.6%


THE cost of living for a family of five in Lusaka has hit K4,371.76, with other major urban centres also recording sharp increases in essential commodities, says Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection.

According to a press release showing the latest JCTR Basic Needs Basket, which took into account the cost of living for a family of five across 15 major urban towns in the country, the cost of living in Lusaka rose to K4,371.76 in December, the highest on record for 2015.

“JCTR observes that 2015 was generally not an easy year for most Zambian households. The Basic Needs Basket for Lusaka, for example, stood at K3,715.47 in July but as at December, it stood at K4,371.76, representing a K656.29 (17.6 per cent) increase,” JCTR stated.

Apart from Lusaka, Ndola was the other major urban centre whose cost of living, as measured by the BNB, jumped to K4,235.23 in December from around K3,500 last July.

And in reviewing 2015, JCTR noted that the PF government’s policy inconsistencies had adversely affected the quality of service delivery to ordinary citizens.

“A growth in the deficit of the national budget from about K8bn to K20bn created by among others, a reversal by the PF government of the proposed mine tax regime for 2015 and the unplanned 2015 presidential election. This, the Centre believes, more likely had a negative impact on the implementation of other programmes, for example, provision of quality health care on the part of government,” it stated.

“At the tail end of 2015, the country saw Zesco adjusting upwards electricity tariffs for both commercial and residential customers. This ignited much outcry among consumers, a move that prompted the Republican President [Edgar Lungu] to order Zesco to revert to old tariffs.”

JCTR also stated that the government’s policy inconsistencies also hurt investor confidence in the economy.

“The issue of policy inconsistencies and weak stakeholder engagement by the government and their impact in reviewing 2015 cannot be overlooked. The uncertainty caused by the policy shifts have had an influence on the country’s investor confidence and economy as a whole,” stated JCTR.

“The depreciating kwacha that managed to stabilise at the end of 2015 and closed at K10.97 to US$1, also contributed to the hardships experienced and inflicted on families in 2015.”

Zambia’s inflation also hit a record high of 21.1 per cent for December, the highest on record so far.