The prices of food and non-alcoholic beverages in Serbia have gone up by 15.7% in just one month and poverty is on the rise, according to the latest official data for March.
The Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Serbia (SSSS) says that the minimum wage is no longer sufficient to cover the minimum consumer basket, which was worth close to 42,000 dinars in January. The union also believes that due to the increase in food prices and other costs, the minimum wage should be re-considered twice a year.
The prices of vegetables increased the most, by 30.6%, coffee and tea by 23%, fats and cooking oil by 20.8% and meat by 17.3%. The increase in prices, of course, also affected the consumer basket and the amount of food needed for a family to survive on.
According to calculations by the Ministry of Trade, Tourism and Telecommunications, in March last year, the minimum food expenditure for a family of three was 16,860 dinars, while in January this year it was 19,198 dinars.
The SSSS says that an average family of three needs at least 50,000 dinars a month for food.
“The minimum wage is not sufficient to cover the minimum consumer basket and this year’s minimum wage increase of about 9 per cent has been cancelled out by the growing food prices. A minimum basket includes bare minimum of foodstuffs. The basket assumes that a family of three consumes 200 grams of lemon per month, or two grams per person per day. It is also difficult to see how 500 grams of cod per month is enough for a family. We think it would be logical to revert to the previous practice when the minimum wage was determined twice a year and was valid for 6 months, or that the minimum wage is determined at the end of the year, when all the relevant data come out”, said the vice-president the SSSS, Dusko Vukovic.
Vukovic believes that the social stakeholders, the Serbian government, trade unions and employers should work together to find a way to compensate for the increase in food prices and other costs.
The minimum consumer basket includes basic foodstuffs such as bread and pastries, fruit and vegetables, fresh and processed meat and meat products, fish, milk and dairy products, eggs, sugar, table salt, coffee, fruit juices, vinegar…
(Moj Novi Sad, 17.04.2022)
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