An increase in church wedding fees is one of the major drivers behind Uganda’s inflation rise according to the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS).
According to the latest Consumer Price Index (CPI) report released on Wednesday for the last 12 months ending January 2024, the country’s annual inflation rate increased to 2.8 per cent compared to the 2.6 per cent recorded in the same period the year ending December 2023.
In the report, this increment was largely due to the rise in the annual core inflation group, whose main driver was the annual services sector where at 30.7 per cent up from 9.5 per cent, wedding fees had the sharpest increase in this group.
Currently, wedding fees paid to churches and mosques have risen to an average of between Shs 200,000 and Shs 800,000 up from between Shs 150,000 and Shs 450,000. In some churches, a couple can part with over Shs 2 million as wedding fees.
Aliziki Lubega, UBOS director for economic statistics, explained that in their survey they encountered revised schedules of the religious wedding fees almost across all religious sects, and this directly translates into the services sector inflation rate. She adds that these changes have a huge weight in the inflation rate computations, hence their bearing on the overall inflation rates.
The other goods and services that contributed to the increased annual inflation, especially in the services docket, are the annual passenger transport by taxis and hired cars whose inflation rose to 5.6 per cent from 2.1 per cent, domestic flight inflation went up to 2.3 per cent compared to a minus 1.0 per cent.
The report also identifies the annual other goods inflation rate, as another contributing factor to the overall inflation increase, as it rose to 1.3 per cent, up from 1.2 per cent as recorded in the year ending December 2023. For this category, the rise was mainly due to cassava flour which recovered a minus 7.3 per cent, up from a minus 12.2 per cent, then maize flour prices went up by minus 31.1 per cent, compared to a minus 31.5 in the year ending December 2023.
Shifting focus to the goods sector, the report points out that annual inflation in the other goods sector rose to 1.3 per cent from 1.2 per cent in the year ending December 2023. This increase is attributed to cassava flour’s recovery, which shifted from a minus 7.3 per cent to a minus 12.2 per cent, and maize flour prices, which rose by 31.1 per cent compared to a minus 31.5 per cent in the previous year.
Additionally, the annual energy, fuels, and utilities inflation, also played a role in the overall inflation increase, rising to 7.4 per cent from 6.4 per cent in the year ending December 2023. Notable contributors to this uptick include a 3.8 per cent increase in petrol prices and a 9.4 per cent rise in firewood prices compared to the 7.3 per cent recorded in the previous year.