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Cote d’Ivoire to regulate prices amid high cost of living

The Ivorian Minister of Trade and Industry, Souleymane Diarrassouba, said on Sunday that his department would take measures to regulate…

The Ivorian Minister of Trade and Industry, Souleymane Diarrassouba, said on Sunday that his department would take measures to regulate prices on the market in the face of the high cost of living, if necessary.“We are continuing the consultation with the various actors (to) find sustainable solutions that do not affect the purchasing power of the people. If necessary, we will take measures to control prices,” said Souleymane Diarrassouba at a press conference.

In recent days, there have been many complaints from the population about price increases, which have been reported and amplified by both the media and social networks.

Mr. Souleymane Diarrassouba called on citizens “to remain calm, to not give in to panic and to avoid disseminating information that is likely to disrupt the market.”

“Faced with the cry of the population to which the government is sensitive, it was therefore important for the department I am in charge of to meet the press and inform the population about the reality of the situation,” he added.

The minister further explained that “the increases observed are not specific to Cote d’Ivoire.” Because, all over the world, with the economic recovery characterized by a much stronger than expected recovery in demand, after a year 2020 marked by the coronavirus pandemic, and the tensions on raw materials, inflation is picking up.

The FAO Food Price Index, he pointed out, rose for the 12th consecutive month to 127.1 points, with a jump of 5.8 points, the largest monthly increase since 2010.

As a result, international prices for most products rose in the second semester of 2020 and rebounded strongly again in the first half of 2021.

He noted, for example, that the price of maize increased more than twofold, and those of soybeans, sugar and wheat rose by 61 percent, 52 percent and 26 percent respectively, as strong demand for animal feed in Asia and constraints on global agricultural production growth fuelled the price rise.

With the price of refined palm oil aligned with the AIPH price of palm kernel or crude oil, the price of palm kernel increased from F47.44/kg in December 2020 to F61.14/kg in January 2021, and then to F77.75/kg in July 2021, a rise of 62 percent.

As for crude palm oil, the price rose from 399 F/kg in December 2020 to 497 F/kg in January 2021, then to 627 F/kg in July 2021, i.e. an increase of 57 percent, while the price of 25 L refined oil rose from 19600 F in December 2020 to 22500 F in July 2021, i.e. an increase of 14.79 percent.

The price of a tonne of wheat rose from 250 euros in January 2021 to 300 euros in July 2021, an increase of 20 percent, combined with a 20 percent increase in the cost of freight, while the price of a tonne of wheat flour rose by only 5 percent between January and July 2021.

“Faced with the rise in the prices of certain basic necessities, various measures have been taken to preserve the purchasing power of households,” he went on, recalling that price determination is a matter for the market according to the law of supply and demand and the play of competition.

The government’s mission is to monitor the market and regulate prices in the event of market dysfunction and proven speculative practices, the Ivorian Minister of Trade and Industry said.

He mentioned that his ministry has strengthened the consultation with the actors of the sectors concerned. In January 2021, following discussions, the industry and his department agreed to suspend the price increases of refined table oil, which occurred in January 2021, and to freeze the prices of type-55 bakery flour.

“In May 2021, in agreement with the actors, we took measures to set maximum prices agreed upon during the energy crisis for beef (with and without bones), cement, and maintaining the price of the bread stick at 150 CFA francs,” he also recalled.

“The rationing of electricity to businesses and households is now over, so we have already noted a downward trend in the retail prices of certain products, particularly building materials,” he noted.

The bundle of iron, which was sold at 52,000 CFA francs in 2019, then at 47,000 CFA francs in December 2020, between 52,000 CFA francs and 54,000 CFA francs from January to April 2021, then between 56,000 CFA francs and 60,000 CFA francs during the rationing has dropped to 54,000 CFA francs today, he noted. 

The retail bag of CPJ 42.5 cement cost 4,200 CFA francs in December 2020, then 4,000 CFA francs between January and April 2021 and between 5,000 CFA francs and 6,000 CFA francs during the period of electricity rationing, is sold today between 4,200 CFA francs and 4,500 CFA francs, almost at the price of December 2020, he assured.

In Cote d’Ivoire, the evolution of prices of basic necessities was “globally under control” during the first quarter of 2021, compared to the same period in 2020, Souleymane Diarrassouba concluded.

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