March 30, 2012

High food prices push inflation up

Zambia’s inflation rate has increased to 6.4 per cent from last month's six per cent, driven by mainly high food and non-alcoholic beverage prices while, the economy grew by 6.6 per cent at the end of 2011, the Central Statistical Office (CSO) has announced. According to CSO director John Kalumbi on average, prices increased by 1.5 per cent between February and March 2012. Out of the 6.4 per cent annual inflation rate recorded in March 2012, food items accounted for 3.3 per cent while non-food products accounted for 3.1 per cent.

The annual rate of inflation for food stands at 6.3 per cent in March 2012 representing an increase from 5.5 per cent recorded in February this year.
Mr Kalumbi said that, regarding disaggregated groups, the annual rates increased for food and non-alcoholic beverages products, alcoholic beverages and tobacco, housing, water and electricity among others.

A comparison of retail prices between February 2012 and March 2012, indicated that the average price of a 25 kilogramme bag of white breakfast mealie-meal increased by 3.6 per cent from K42,828 to K44,388 while, the national average price of a 20 litre tin of maize increased by 0.9 per cent from K19,308 to K19,487. The CSO rebased the inflation basket to that of 2009 but Zambia's inflation rate for 2011 closed at 7.2 per cent under the previous calculations, almost hitting the seven per cent year-end target which was set in the 2012 National Budget. The rebased CPI is categorised into 12 main groups and based on a revised basket of products, weights, index reference period and new software.

Meanwhile, the revised estimates of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) indicate that the economy grew slightly more by 6.6 per cent in 2011 compared to 7.6 per cent in 2010. 'The estimates is the tenth of percentage points higher than the preliminary estimates which showed an expected growth of 6.5 per cent in 2011.The revised estimates are mainly based on data up to the third quarter of the year," he said. The growth was driven by the construction, transport and communication, agriculture,forestry fishing and the trade sectors. (Times of Zambia)

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