Several recommendations from the Kosovo Chamber of Commerce could help Kosovars deal with the higher cost of food.
By Safet Kabashaj for Southeast European Times in Pristina -- 11/09/12
Food prices will increase 10 to 15 percent, the KCC said. [Reuters]
The Kosovo Chamber of Commerce (KCC) has made several recommendations to the government in order to help citizens deal with the increase in food prices after the drought this summer. The country, which imports almost 50 percent of its food, was dealt a blow when the summer weather conditions ravaged crops in the region.
Prices for food are expected to increase by 10 to 15 percent starting this month.
According to the chamber, the government needs to dip into the state reserves to lessen the crisis this year.
"The increase will especially hit countries facing a stall in the economic development, and Kosovo cannot be isolated from the global wave," Safet Gerxhaliu, head of the KCC, told SETimes. He said that the decline in direct foreign investments and the decline in foreign remittances will add to the impact on the country.
Other recommendations were to subvert oil and fertilizers, which have been used in the cultivation and harvesting of cereals and agricultural cultures, and to prepare additional social packages for the most endangered citizens.
Despite the chamber's urging, the government does not seem ready to act.
"State reserve goods cannot prevent food price increases, even if we had them now," Arta Istrefi, political adviser for media in the ministry of trade and industry. According to Istrefi, the ministry is working to establish the first state reserves, but they will not be available until next October.
She said that such goods are dedicated for other situations, wars and natural disasters.
"The fact that we have a population with a poverty up to 40 percent, with almost 20 percent living in extreme poverty, we are the only place with European prices but African incomes. With almost 250,000 families living on social assistance, a great percentage of Kosovo society will be feeling the effects of the upcoming crisis," Gerxhaliu said.
"The delivery of social assistance is based on internal legal criteria and they will not change despite an eventual increase in food prices," Behxhet Gaxhiqi, press advisor for the ministrty of labour and social welfare, told SETimes.
But some say that the estimate of the price increase is low.
Selatin Kaqaniku, the chairman of NGO Konsumatori (Consumer) says that the increase will be higher than the one announced by KCC.
"Taking into consideration latest energy price increase, daily increase in oil, bread and other basic life products, I'm afraid a general increase will hit 15 to 20 percent," Kaqaniku told SETimes.
The increases are of great concern to the public, especially to those living in poverty.
Mane Memqaj, a mother of six, receives 65 euros a month through social assistance.
"Every day I wait to hear for an increase of income for my family, then I hear that our foods will become more expensive," she told SETimes. Nevertheless, she is not surprised.
"I'm constantly witnessing price increases in goods, and I have no idea if they will ever stop," Memqaj said.