South Africa’s finance minister’s first budget – Cost of Living improved?

24/10: South Africa’s minister of finance Malusi Gigaba will announce the country’s medium-term policy budget in the week of 25 October 2017. This will be Gigaba’s maiden statement since coming into office in early March, following President Jacob Zuma’s controversial cabinet shuffle. But will he improve the general Cost of Living for ordinary South Africans?

The Cost of Living in South Africa may be considered cheap by international standards, yet prices have been slowly rising in recent years. A tough economy, high unemployment and the fluctuating Rand have pushed prices up, particularly for fuel and utilities. There is a noticeable divide between rich and poor across the country.

Prices for food and accommodation tend to be higher in the larger cities of Cape Town and Johannesburg, where jobs are easier to find and salaries higher. While the Cost of Living is lower in South Africa compared with other developed countries, it is relative to the average monthly disposable salary.

Cost of Living takes into account the basic needs and expenses of an average person, and/or a family. These include accommodation costs (renting, mortgage, loans etc), food, utilities (electricity, water, gas), transport and/or fuel costs, clothing, education (if applicable) and health costs.

Interestingly, as many as 31 out of 36 foods across all food categories increased in January 2017, according to the Pietermaritzburg Agency for Community Social Action (Pacsa). Notably, the January 2017 prices of all the foods in the ‘big food’ category increased (25kg maize meal, 10kg rice, 10kg cake flour, 10kg white sugar and 4 L cooking oil).

According to Pacsa, women in low-income households identify that these foods must be secured every month for basic energy and enable meals to be cooked. In total, they came to R634.10 in January 2017. By the end of the year, this will be more. Which means the Price of Living has risen.

High increases means that low-income households cut-back on foods which are important for balanced nutrition, such as meats, fish and eggs, dairy and vegetables, the group said.

“High increases on the big foods results in compromised nutrition; which impact most severely on women because women eat last and make sure nutritionally-rich foods, when they are short, are prioritized for children and men in the house,” Pacsa said.

What do you pay for basic goods? Take Our Cost of Living survey and see how you fare


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