A LOW income family of six now requires at least US$560 to survive each month, the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) has said.
The consumer watchdog said the low income consumer basket for June increased a marginal 0.18 per cent from about US$560 the previous month.
Incomes for most ordinary people however remain well below that figure with government employees earning just over US$280 per month.
Finance Minister Tendai Biti ruled out any wage hikes for this year when he presented the mid-term budget Wednesday and warned that the government faced a real risk of failing to pay its workers.
"Indeed, even in the absence of such (salary) reviews, government faces the real danger of defaulting on salary payment," he said Wednesday.
"Hence, we need not take the current monthly payments for granted but seriously appreciate the limited fiscal space for wage adjustments."
Wages are nmuch better in the private sector either with most companies still operating well below capacity as the country’s economy struggles to shake-off the effects of a decade-long recession.
The CCZ said the food basket increased by 0,92% to US$148,88 in June up from US$147,53 recorded the previous month. The surge was largely due to an upward swing in the prices of rice, tomatoes and other vegetables as well as sugar, cooking oil and bath soap.
Prices for mealie-meal eased marginally to US$9,38 per 20kg bag, down from US$9,90 in May while fresh milk went down 3US cents to 70US cents in the same period. The transport, rent, water and electricity, health, education, clothing and footwear basket remained stable at the US$399.
But electricity and water supplies continue to be a challenge, with a number of households forced to use untreated water and staying in darkness for periods beyond 12 hours.
The consumer watchdog said it was concerned with the hike in transport fares during peak hours and would continue to monitor the situation closely.