Zimbabwe’s poverty datum line up 14%, but salaries remains subdued

By Almot Maqolo

An average Zimbabwean family required at least $8 484 in May this year to meet its basic needs for it not to be deemed poor, a 14 percent jump from $7 425 the previous month, latest data shows. Salaries across the country’s key economic sectors have remained subdued with employers continuing to award increments way below the Total Consumption Poverty Line (TCPL). This comes as most companies are battling for survival amid the country’s deteriorating economic situation.

“The TCPL for one person during the same period (May 2020) stood at $1 697 while that for an average of five persons per household was $8 484,” the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (Zimstat) said in a tweet.

TCPL is commonly referred to as Poverty Datum Line (PDL). International Labour Organisation recommends that the PDL should be used as a benchmark or reference point in determining minimum wages. However in the current environment, wage growth is lagging behind inflation.

However, the new PDL is US$145 at central bank rate of 57 and US$106 at the prevailing parallel market rate of 80. The jump reflects a continued increase in the prices of goods and services which wants to keep pace with movements in the market characterised by inflationary pressures and volatile exchange rates.

The poverty line is the threshold below which families or individuals are considered to be lacking the resources to meet the basic needs for healthy living; in other words, having insufficient income to provide the food, shelter and clothing needed to preserve health. Zimstat added that: “The Food Poverty Line (FPL) for one person in May 2020 was $680 while that for an average household of five persons was $3 398.”

FPL represents the minimum consumption needed to ensure that each household member can (if all expenditures were devoted to food) consume a minimum food basket representing 2 100 calories.

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