By Sami Zaptia.
London, 6 March 2021:
The cost of the Minimum Expenditure Basket (MEB) across Libya increased by overall 6.1% between January and February 2021 to LD 743. The finding comes from the latest report by the Joint Market Monitoring Initiative (JMMI) / REACH.
This overall rise was balanced by the continuing decrease (-9.1%) in cost of cooking fuel despite the increase in the cost of the food portion of the MEB (+6.4%) and the hygiene portion of the MEB (+10.5%). The cost of the MEB in February 2021 was 18.1% higher than pre-COVID-19 levels in March 2020.
The report says that since the unification of the exchange rate on the 3 January 2021, a number of imported goods increased in price, such as vegetable oil (+60.0%), milk (+25%), condensed milk (+20%), flour (+20%) and sugar (+20%) and tuna (+14.3%). It says it is unclear whether these changes are related to the devaluation and/or the CBL decision to suspend the LCs from September 2020.
The report says that vegetable oil and milk prices have respectively increased by 77.8% and 29.0% from November 2020 – February 2021.
The largest increase in the cost of the MEB were observed in western coastal cities, such as Zwara (+24.9%), Misrata (+23.1%), and Sabrata (+20.9%). According to local KIs an increased amount of small skirmishes, the creation of additional checkpoints, longer inspection times along the coastal road between Zwara, Sabrata and Zawia had inflated transportation fees, therefore may have had an effect on the food and fuel prices in Zwara and Sabrata.
Unofficial gasoline (-50%) and cooking fuel (-15.8%) prices have continued to decrease across Libya compared to December 2020. Southern Libyan unofficial cooking fuel prices are the lowest since JMMI cooking fuel records began in May 2018. Over the past 11 months, the cost of an 11-kg cooking fuel cylinder fell 81.3% from 200 LD in April 2020 to 37.5 LD in February 2021.