The pain of inflation

A gas station
A gas station (Photo credit: Mehluli Hikwa)

The consumer price index (CPI) from January to December 2021was at 9.1 per cent and in a matter of one month it jumped to 9.7 per cent in January 2022. According to the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) the inflation rate for January 2022 increased by 0.6 per cent. Inflation occurs when the price of goods and services change thus needing more money to purchase the same amount of goods and services. Items that costed $100 in 2021 now cost $106 in 2022. The Bank of Jamaica CPI target for the years 2021 to 2024 is 4.0 to 6.0 per cent. Last year the CPI was able to stay on target and was at 5.61 per cent but increased to 6.25 per cent this year. 

High inflation makes Jamaica more attractive to tourists, especially those from the United States of America and England. Their currencies are worth more here as inflation weakens the Jamaican dollar.

With inflation floating over the heads of Jamaicans, the Cabinet has approved a 28.5 per cent increase in the National Minimum Wage which will be in effect for April 1, 2022. It moved from $7000 to $9000. As for security guards their pay will move from $9700 to $10,500. The last increase in minimum wage was in 2018.

People are complaining it is not enough. Marsha Stewart from Kingston says she is a domestic helper and she has to travel every day to work. Stewart says due to the taxi fare increase she pays $600 a day for fare. “You do the maths, that’s $3000 a week for fare alone, that will leave me with $6000,” says Stewart. She further went on to say she has two children to send to school plus her light, water and flow bill and groceries. The increase in minimum wage cannot help her much but it’s a start.

In an interview with a taxi operator, he said the fare increase (which added 15 per cent to fare) is not enough, “every time a passenger come into my car, dem a complain say dem no have no money but dem a beg turnoff and cannot pay turn off fare”. The operator emphasized that oil prices are increasing and he cannot afford to be lenient with his passengers, he has children to take care of, too. 

The uncertainty resulting from the impending war between Russia and the Ukraine has seen oil prices surpassing US$100 a barrel. With Russia being a major provider of natural gas there is no telling what can happen to these energy prices that impact with electricity and other similar products.

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