Malawi’s inflation remains within single digit at 9.8 percent in the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa).
Measured by the region’s Harmonized Consumer Price Index (HCPI-Comesa) the figure which is for February 2018 is an improvement from 10.6 percent recorded in January.
HCPI-Comesa comprises of 12 divisions of expenditure including categories on housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels et cetera.
The number is well below the inflation figure for the region, which stood at 19.9 percent, down from 21.5 percent in January.
The development means Malawi is faring relatively well on the rate at which prices of goods and services are increasing as compared to other countries in the 26-member regional bloc.
Locally, inflation made a historic turn to hit single digit at 9.3 percent in August 2017, the first time in six years. The movement beat Reserve Bank of Malawi’s prediction that inflation would move into the single digit lane by December 2017.
Over the following months, the inflation rate has been stable maintaining within the single digit trajectory, only quickening to 9.9 percent year-on-year in March this year from 7.8 percent in February.
Optimism is high that inflation will now reflect consumer spending patterns after the National Statistical Office (NSO) rebased the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and, among others, reduced the weightage of food from 51 percent to 45.2 percent.
The new CPI weigh t s, according to NSO, are based on monetary expenditures relating to consumption for all households (both urban and rural) derived from the Fourth Integrated Household Survey conducted between 2016 and 2017.
But, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has indicated that the risk of inflation reversal still remains, necessitating macroeconomic policy to continue focusing on entrenching the gains so far made.