Ugandans were charged high prices for goods and services in April compared to what they spent in March, a survey by Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) has said.
UBOS’ Consumer Price Index (CPI) for April 2020, which measures what Ugandans pay for various goods and services, captured the period between March 15, 2020, and April 15, 2020.
This was the period, wherein anticipation of lockdown due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19), Ugandans went out to stock on foodstuffs and other goods.
UBOS reports that maize flour and rice had the biggest increases in prices. This is because they were the most stocked food items. Maize flour prices increased to 37.0 percent for the year ending April 2020 compared to 32.2 percent recorded in March, whole rice prices increased to 7.4 percent in April 2020 compared to 0.3 percent recorded in March 2020.
This shows that retailers took advantage of the demand to hike the prices. People paid more than Shs 3000 per kilogram of maize flour, while rice buyers paid as much as Shs 6,000. Vegetables, beans, salt, sugar, and non-alcoholic drinks like sodas, juices saw their prices jump too.
UBOS indicates some items went down. For instance, alcoholic beverages like beer and spirits prices fell by at least 1 percent in April compared to what they sold in March. This is all because they were not regarded as essential in this period of Coronavirus lockdown.
Also, bars and night clubs where these are consumed mostly were the first to be closed. Also, some alcohol producers, especially spirits changed their production lines to sanitizers as the demand for it shot up.
On the other hand, education, health, transport, recreational, and culture registered a zero change in their pricing. This is mainly because people were not moving, schools had closed and the main focus in hospitals is on Coronavirus, the statistics body indicated.
Clothing and Footwear prices increased slightly – this is on account of the shortage as a result of reduced imports from China and other countries that had already implemented the lockdowns to stem the spread of lockdowns.
Some of the items that saw rises in prices during the panic buy period have since come down as Ugandans realized that even during the lockdown, they can walk to the market or nearby shop and buy items they need.
Trade Minister Amelia Kyambadde announced late last month that prices of sugar, salt, maize flour had come down as demand waned. These will be captured in the UBOS reporting of May 2020.