Zimbabwe’s annual inflation for the month of April 2020 is estimated to have raced to 726,81 percent from the March 2020 rate of 676 percent.
The official April inflation figures were supposed to have been released on May 15, but the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency apologised and said it was unable to do so due to issues related to the Covid19 pandemic and the subsequent national lockdown from March 30.
These stats will be published upon finalisation of data processing, said Zimstat.
Economist John Robertson (pictured below) said while very few official statistics have become available from Government “trends are clearly downwards for everything other than prices.”
Prices for goods and services have for long been tracking the exchange rate and the Zimbabwe dollar’s continued weakening, even during the lockdown, mean prices would be on an upward trajectory.
“But, of course, price increases are a measure of the falling value of the Zimbabwe dollar.
“While the Reserve Bank holds to an official exchange rate of $25:US$1, the black market rate has moved to $54,5:US$1,” said Robertson in a research note released this week.
Procurement costs, driven mainly by the weakening Zimbabwe dollar value, have probably been the main factor driving up supermarket goods prices, but scarcities are showing up in certain product lines and putting pressure on prices, he said.
Robertson said if the figures could be collected the Consumer Price Index could move to 1 643,61 while annual inflation for April could have reached 726,81 percent.
He said failure to collect the April stats will distort inflation figures going forward.
“We might be making estimates for some months to come,” said Robertson.
Analysing figures for electronic receipts and payments through the banks that were published by the RBZ,
“Robertson said they indicated “lower standard of living is being experienced by perhaps most families,” in the country.
The transactions figures, which include payments of wages and rents as well as for items paid for in supermarkets, showed a marked downturn in transactions in April this year, after the lockdown.
“Price averages in April this year were about nine times higher than they were in April last year, but the indications I can get on wage levels suggest that wages have increased four or five-fold over the period.”
“This indicates that lower volumes of goods are being paid for and therefore a lower standard of living is being experienced by perhaps most families,” said Robertson.