Prices rise by over 50pc from January

Maize flour

A worker carries bales of maize flour from a lorry into a shop in Mukuru Kwa Njenga on June 23.

Photo credit: Francis Nderitu | Nation Media Group

Six months ago, you would spend Sh914 to buy a 2kg packet of maize flour, 2kg of wheat flour, a litre of cooking oil, a bar soap, a 500ml packet of milk, a 400g loaf of bread, a roll of toilet paper and a litre of paraffin.

Today, the same items will cost you Sh1,372, reflecting a 50 per cent overall rise in commodity prices over that period.

For instance, a 2kg packet of maize flour that on average cost Sh126 in January is now retailing at highs of Sh230, a litre of cooking oil that cost an average of Sh305 is selling at highs of above Sh460, half a kilo of cooking oil that cost Sh142 now goes for Sh213, and the price of a bar soap has shot up from Sh135 to Sh191.

Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) data released Thursday showed that inflation rose to the highest levels in five years last month, breaking the Central Bank of Kenya’s (CBK) ceiling of 7.5 per cent to hit 7.9 per cent.

“The rise in inflation was mainly due to [an] increase in prices of commodities under food and non-alcoholic beverages (13.8 per cent); furnishings, household equipment and routine household maintenance (9.2 per cent); transport (7.1 per cent) and housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels (6.8 per cent) between June 2021 and June 2022,” KNBS stated.

A Nation analysis of the impact of the rising cost of living on millions of citizens shows that, while domestic and global factors are to blame for the burden Wanjiku has been left to shoulder, the feeling across different sectors in the economy is that the government bears a huge responsibility in causing and resolving the mess.

The prices of almost all commodities that households use daily, including food and household products, have increased, and so have transport costs. The prices of diapers have gone up by about 30 per cent and a roll of tissue that consumers used to buy for between Sh20 and Sh30 now costs up to Sh60.

“Kenya imports most of the raw materials from Egypt. The producing nation has increased the per unit cost by 50 per cent, compared to the prices in early 2022,” said Tobias Alando, acting CEO of the Kenya Association of Manufacturers.

On fuel costs, the price of petrol has risen 22 per cent from Sh130 in January to Sh159 currently, diesel by 26 per cent from Sh111 to Sh140 and kerosene by 20 per cent from Sh106 to Sh128, after the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (Epra) raised prices by Sh9 on June 15.

These high prices followed a series of chaos that faced the sector in April as oil marketers disagreed with the government on subsidies on petroleum products, a dispute that led to the marketers hoarding products, punishing citizens and businesses.

Consumers Federation of Kenya (Cofek) secretary-general Stephen Mutoro said citizens have been pushed to the edge and urged the government to zero-rate fuel products whose prices have hit all sectors of the economy.

He blames the government for its poor budget planning that leaves it borrowing heavily, only to resort to heavily taxing citizens so as to afford servicing debts whose impact was not felt in the wider economy. The Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) lamented that, while the cost of living has risen, the salaries of workers have remained the same.

“After the elections, we will engage in talks with various government agencies on [the cost of living] and protection of wages through various conventions of the International Labour Organization and some that we have domesticated,” said Cotu secretary-general Francis Atwoli.


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