Extend tax relief to households, JCTR implores govt

THE Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR) has called on government to extend tax relief to households in order to safeguard both citizens’ economic livelihoods and nutrition status.

Releasing the Basic Needs and Nutrition Basket (BNNB) for May 2020, JCTR social and economic development programme manager Chama Bowa-Mundia stated that there was an uphill battle for the poor as the cost of living continues to rise.

She said the BNNB for May stood at K7,195.60, an increase of K36.93 from the April basket.

Mundia said increases in the basket were noted in the prices of vegetables, which moved from K354.83 to K502.73, milk which increased to K170.83 from K103.28 for 10 litres, while bananas moved from K153.77 to K203.03.

A kilogramme of pounded groundnuts increased from K43.95 to K79.23, 4kg of rice moved from K77.54 to K82.76, while 4kg of potatoes increased to K37.99 from K30.36.

Additionally, 4kg onion increased from K80.14 to K94.07, while 3 trays of eggs moved from K103.28 to K112.49.

She said reductions were however recorded in prices of other fruits moving to K321.64 from K426.16.

Mundia said mealie-meal prices reduced from K250.5 to K200.

“Of interest is that items that contributed to the rise in the BNNB basket in May 2020 are foods such as eggs and milk that are nutritious sources of protein and already unaffordable to many Zambians. April 2020 also saw price increases in kapenta and chicken. It is however worthwhile to note that mealie-meal has recorded a price decrease for the second month following the increase in the supply of the commodity on the market,” Mundia said in a statement Friday.

“It is worth noting that price reductions in this essential commodity come at a time when many Zambians are experiencing drastic reduction in incomes. More so, consumption of other food groups is already limited with many households characterised by monotonous diets consisting of carbohydrates (mostly maize) and thus being nutritionally imbalanced. Thus, continuous decrease in the price of maize at the backdrop of increase in other essential food items will likely sustain the mono diet culture.”

Mundia said the coronavirus pandemic continued to pause a challenge to everyone.

She urged government to cushion the poorest members of society.

“We attribute the increases in the prices of certain items to reduction in supply given the rising input costs and loss of revenue that has characterised a number of economic activities as a result of COVID-19. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to present challenges given its impact on all socio-economic fronts,” said Mundia.

“With the continued increase in the cost of living, JCTR echoes the need to cushion the poorest and marginalised among us through social protection. The need for government intervention and commitment to the disbursement of allocated funds has become more pronounced. For one, as job and income losses continue in the COVID-19 context particularly in the urban areas, social safety nets provided to poor, rural based Zambians by friends and family may also drastically reduce.”

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