By KWANELE DHLADHLA | 2022-01-15
Bread price increase is on the cards.
This follows a proposal that has been tabled by Eswatini Bakers’ Association to the ministry of commerce, industry and trade requesting for a bread price increase of 13 per cent, on both the brown and white bread.
The 13 per cent hike translates to an increase of E1.70 at the highest. Effectively, this could increase the price of a white loaf of bread (800 grams) from E13.07 to E14.77. A loaf of brown bread could be hiked to E12.87 from E11.39 since the last increase, which was on October 26, 2020.
An independent economist who spoke on condition of anonymity observed that the proposed increase will further dig deeper into the pockets of consumers because five cents coins were phased out in the kingdom. Therefore, the price will further be rounded up to E14.80 for white bread and E12.90 for brown bread.
The association made their request based on the increase of bread inputs and fuel hikes. An increase in the prices of wheat by up to 30 per cent was reportedly one of the key factors why the bakers felt their production costs were now too high.
Also, the hike in unleaded petrol by 90 cents per litre, whilst diesel and illumination paraffin increased by 80 cents per litre was pointed out as a driving force for an increment in the price of bread.
The new fuel prices came into effect at midnight, Thursday December 2, 2021.
Following the adjustments, unleaded petrol (ULP 95) rose from E16.25 per litre to E17.15 per litre.
Diesel (0.005 per cent (S) increased from E16.20 per litre to E17 per litre and paraffin price spiked from E10.95 per litre to E11.75 per litre.
It should be noted, however, that the increase in fuel was attributed to the international crude oil prices, which were reduced slightly from US$85.31 to US$79.09 in November due to the release of Strategic Petroleum Reserves which was coordinated by the world’s biggest economies against OPEC’s non-response from the request for mitigation measures against the escalating oil prices.
When asked what was the ministry of commerce, industry and trade’s stance on the proposed price, Principal Secretary (PS) Siboniso Nkambule 13 per cent increase was considered a bit high and amounted to a maximum of E1.70 per loaf which was viewed to be exorbitant.
Nkambule was also probed as to whether following the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic there would be any considerations made for the public which has a lessened financial muscle, to which he responded by acknowledging that the whole nation was still recovering from the recent unrest and also the pandemic, which left most consumers out of jobs and some with pay-cuts, while bread has presented itself as a staple food for most households thus any increase should be fair to all parties.
“Currently, proposal for the increase is with Cabinet,” disclosed Nkambule when an inquiry was made as to what was government’s response to the bakers association when they tabled their proposal.
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