No April Fool: Taxes for Vices Go Up on Saturday
All Fools’ Day may be on Saturday, but for those who enjoy beer and cigarettes or pay electricity bills of one hundred dollars and above, our next story will be no joke at all. Prices are going up effective April first for beer, rum, cigarettes, fuel and aerated water or soft drinks. Government legislated in the Budget an increase in excise levies for these products, known as the ‘sin taxes.’ Government will claim up to twenty-seven million dollars of the needed seventy-seven million in revenue from this measure alone. Bottlers of Belikin Beer and Stout and Lighthouse Lager beer, Belize Brewing Company Limited, did not confirm to us today by how much their products will go up, but we are informed unofficially that the cost of a case of beer, in particular, could rise by up to six dollars. However, we have seen a notice informing customers at a particular establishment in Ambergris Caye of price rises caused by the tax increases. In the case of rum, Travellers Liquors has said that the new prices for its products will kick in on Monday, but the specific increase is being worked out. Following the Budget presentation two weeks ago, Prime Minister Dean Barrow contended that while it was not expected to bring in much revenue, the Government preferred this route rather than heavier measures like raising the General Sales Tax, among others.
Prime Minister Dean Barrow [File: March 13th, 2017]
“That’s it exactly, the question of trying to get at the objective but ensuring that there is minimal pain, and that the pain is distributed – such pain as there is, is distributed in such a way that the most vulnerable are protected; that you don’t cripple business – those sorts of considerations. The ‘sin’ taxes – those haven’t been raised for years and years and years, donkey’s years; so we felt that that’s an area that was ripe for some kind of picking, we did see that as low-hanging fruit.”
In respect of fuel prices that go up at midnight tonight, we can confirm the following: premium increases by thirty-five cents per gallon; regular by thirty-two cents and diesel by twelve cents per gallon.