By Staff Reporter

 

The widening gap between income and cost of living is denying social justice, Jesuits Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR) has disclosed.

And JCTR announced that its April 2018 Basic Needs Basket (BNB) for a family of five living in Lusaka stood at ZMW5, 433.00 which was ZMW142.00 less than the March BNB which stood at ZMW 5, 575.00.

In its April report, JCTR stated that the country’s problem of unemployment and low income was real.

“According to the 2015 living conditions monitoring survey the average monthly income for Zambian households was ZMW1, 801.30. In the last two years the gap between average monthly income and Lusaka cost of living which is now at ZMW 5,433.00 has steadily been widening. The widening gap between income and cost of living is denying social justice. According to the 2017 labour force survey (LFS), the unemployment rate was estimated at 11.9% from 7.4% in 2014. Youth unemployment rate in the first quarter of 2017 was estimated at 16.3 percent. In urban areas, youth unemployment rate stood at 17%, while rural areas recorded a rate of 15.5%. The report further shows that out of the employed population, 24.8 % were formally employed and 75.2% were informally employed,” read the report in part. “The problem of unemployment and low income is real and is recognized by the President and his government. In an apparent reference to the labour force survey findings, President Edgar Lungu during Labour Day Celebrations directed the Ministry of Labour to speed up the process of revising minimum wage so as to ensure that workers have decent wages and could provide basic needs for their families. This directive was based on a baseline survey that was conducted on the prevailing minimum wages in various sectors. JCTR acclaims the President for giving a directive to the Minister of Labour to revise the minimum wage and other labour related laws in order to protect workers’ rights.”

On its April 2018 BNB, JCTR indicated that the most significant reduction was noted in the price of Kapenta which decreased by ZMW55 from ZMW237 in March to ZMW183 in April per kg. “Tomatoes price decreased by ZMW9 from ZMW26 in March to ZMW17 in April per kg. Charcoal decreased by ZMW12 from ZMW152 in March to ZMW140 in April per 90kg bag. Mealie Meal decreased by ZMW2 from ZMW76 in March to ZMW74 in April,” stated JCTR. “The price of Kapenta decreased because of the product’s increased availability on the market. Increased supply of tomatoes and charcoal on the market pushed down prices of the two commodities.”

JCTR expressed its happiness with government’s great attached of importance to revising minimum wages in view of the rise in cost of living.

“The Centre strongly urges government to prioritize the enactment of strict laws in the employment and labour sector that will protect workers from being exploited by their employers. Implementation of the minimum wage law and stakeholder consultation should be key before and after the revision process,” read the report. “We further recommend government to speed up the revision of the minimum wage and to consider the inflationary fluctuations which have taken place since the last revision. Government should revise minimum wages according to sectors so that no vulnerable worker is left out in any sector. Lastly we urge government to prioritize creation of decent jobs which ensure that workers enjoy their rights at work, enjoy social security coverage which includes having social dialogue mechanisms at their work places as stipulated in the Seventh National Development Plan.”

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