The Pietermaritzburg Agency for Community Social Action (Pacsa) has released its monthly food price barometer for August 2016, showing that the cost of a ‘minimum’ basket of food has hit its highest point to date.
The Pacsa food price inflation basket tracks the affordability of food and other essential household requirements for working class households, in a context of low wages, social grants and high levels of unemployment.
The basket itself is not nutritionally complete, rather reflecting on the reality of what the working class in South Africa can afford. A second basket, which is nutritionally complete, is also included to further highlight the disparity between what people need and what they can afford.
The minimum asked includes the prices of a basket of 36 basic foods which working class poor households, with seven members, said they buy every month.
According to Pacsa, in August the minimum food price basket increased by R28.13 or 1.5% toR1,942.42. Year on year, the change is even harsher, increasing R318.67 or 19.6% from R1,623.75 in August 2015.
For a nutritionally complete basket of food, the cost for a family of 5 (2 adults, 2 children and 1 elder), is R3,125.87, Pacsa said, showing a R2,382.82 difference between what people can afford, and what they need to get basic nutrition.
Minimum wage should be R8,000
Pacsa sparked some controversy in July by recommending that the National Minimum Wage be set at R8,000 a month, so that households could live dignified lives.
According to the group’s findings, while a minimum wage of R3,200 would be enough to buy a nutritional basket for a family of 5, it would leave only R74 for the rest of the month to spend on everything else – rent, transport, clothing, education, etc- which is impossible.
With the current average minimum wage in South Africa (across all sectors) at R2,362, a nutritional basket leaves households R764 in the red.
Pacsa’s data shows that only an income of R8,000 would be adequate.
Economists have argued that a minimum wage of R4,000 would destroy jobs and ultimately stunt the economy even further.
Source: Business Tech