In 2021, cooking oil prices went crazy under a blame game

By Dumbula Joseph:

This year has been uncertain. But others say we know not what the next minute brings and that makes our lives an idea of uncertainty.

Let’s face it, in 2021, whatever justifications and technical explanations are there, prices of cooking oil and other food commodities just went way too haywire.

A blame game between stakeholders has crippled people’s minds and we accept as an agreement is clear that the cost of living faced a huge test this year. And it was defeated. And the cost of living is high.

Now, the timelines remain sketchy but we may trace the footprints.

Earlier on, the government lauded the fact that soya beans’ have been topping the list of Malawi’s exports in the fourth quarter of the 2020-21 financial year, but the Edible Cooking Oil Association of Malawi held a view that this meant a scarcity of the product. Further, the association speculated there would be a hike in oil prices henceforth.

Although various stakeholders were also weighing in on the matter, the Ministry of Trade said this was however surprising as a substantial number of manufacturers seldom crush local oilseeds for production.

Further, the manufactures also heaped the blame on the 16.5 percent value-added tax (VAT) levied on the product arguing it contributed to the price increase on the market.

This was heavily disputed by the Consumers Association of Malawi (Cama) and the Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) who admitted they felt the oil manufacturers made false claims that the hike has been on account of VAT.

Now, although these debates and blame games dominated the headlines, routine media coverage projected that the prices rose by 48.5 percent within a month.

As if this was not enough, even water boards hiked water tariffs, a feat appears to have gone so much positive media coverage with the boards exposing how lacking they are in costs of operations.

As it is: A scramble for resources will be taken through next year.

Solace is however coming through with a highly touted recovery plan, which the government highlights will improve people’s levity, which has faced the Covid19 effect.

Expectations rest on the fact that even at the micro-economic level, there will be an improvement.


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