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US$ cost of living down 10,6% – CCZ

Business Reporter

THE cost of living in United States dollar terms went down by 10,6 % in the month of December 2023 ,the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe latest stats have shown.

The data released this week shows a significant decline in the basic commodities prices using the greenback.

“In US$ terms, the basket decreased by 10,96 % from US$495,04 to US$440,79 during the same period. This paradox is attributed to the dual pricing system which CCZ noted in the market,” the lobby group said.

CCZ said most supermarkets are even offering discounts on the US$ sales in order to attract more foreign currency sales.

“Prices of commodities in the family basket had, however, gone down in US dollar terms to US$440,79 from US$495,04 of last month,” CCZ spokesperson, Philimon Chereni said.

Market watchers have maintained that considering the fact that 80% of transactions conducted in the economy are in US$ with just 20% in ZWL, the recent CCZ stats indicate a significant decline in the cost of living.

However, the CCZ data shows huge increases on ZWL prices by supermarkets and other formal retailers.

“As measured by the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe’s low-income urban earner monthly basket for a family of six, the cost of living measured in the local currency increased by 22,66% from ZWL$2 958 460,70 to ZWL$3 628 944,20,” said CCZ.

Among the top shakers and movers in the basket were cabbage, salt, tomatoes, onions and cooking oil which rose by 97,7%. 63,7% 56,4%, 50,6% and 44,8% respectively.

This is partly attributed to the high demand for these products during the festive season. In contrast, water and rates, washing powder transport and education recorded the least shakers, registering 8,5%, 5,3%, 4,6%, and 1,3%, respectively.

“We cannot aptly conclude that prices have spiralled to the magnitude portrayed by CCZ. Remember we have to factor in the 80:20 ratio of US$ and ZWL transactions in the local market.

“Accordingly, Zimstat has even changed the inflation calculation methodology as of last year to be realistic on currency usage.

“Then secondly the fact that we have thriving informal sector offering much cheaper basic commodities and even out competing the formal traders volumes effectively throws the CCZ stats into debate,” one analyst said on anonymity.

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