Africa: Commonwealth Ministers Seek Support Over Rising Inflation

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Finance Ministers from Commonwealth member states said there was a need for policy support measures in order to tackle the cost-of-living crisis.

They also pointed out the need to address food insecurity, especially for member countries dependent on imports of basic commodities.

The call was made during this year’s Commonwealth Finance Ministers Meeting (CFMM 2022) hosted in Washington DC, at the side-line of the ongoing World Banks and International Monetary Fund (IMF) meetings.

Commonwealth Secretary-General, Patricia Scotland said “With the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic lingering and the ongoing geo-political tensions disrupting global output and supply chains, commonwealth members are grappling with high global inflationary pressures.

“To this end, the important role that fiscal authorities play in tackling some of these challenges.

“The economic challenges facing us necessitate concerted efforts to develop viable strategies to revive and revitalise our economies for the benefit and well-being of Commonwealth citizens.

“To achieve the future we want, a future that leaves no one behind, global and regional collaboration remains imperative. We need to acknowledge that while the rising cost of living affects everyone, it disproportionately affects climate-vulnerable, small, developing, and low-income countries.

“More needs to be done to provide inclusive debt relief and financial support for them all.

“Furthermore, there is also the need to strengthen debt management systems to contain public debt at manageable levels.”

Rwanda’s Consumer Price Index (CPI), the main gauge of inflation, indicated a 14.8 per cent increase by May this year, compared to the same time last year.

However, Rwandan minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Uzziel Ndagijimana expressed gratitude about the issue of inflation;

“I am happy that today, one of the issues being discussed is tackling inflation from a fiscal policy stance. Fiscal authorities have important roles to play in combating inflation but not in isolation from the central banks.

Ndagijimana, who also chaired the meeting, said that the fiscal tools should cushion the effect on vulnerable households and businesses, helping them to cope with the rising cost of living and cost of doing business; as well as safeguarding food and energy security.

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