Detailing New Prices for Vices
New prices are in effect for beer and stout; soft drinks; rum; cigarettes; fuel and cement following the coming into force of the 2017-2018 Budget. The Government of Belize legislated an increase in excise levies for these products, known as the ‘sin taxes.’ Bowen and Bowen Limited, bottlers of the Coca-Cola line of products as well as Belikin beer and stout and Lighthouse lager beer, today confirmed that only certain products were hit with increases of four dollars per crate or twenty-five cents in the retail price. The one-dollar twelve-ounce bottle is not affected, but the larger half-liter bottle and plastic bottle increase from a dollar fifty to a dollar seventy-five and two dollars to two dollars and twenty-five cents. Beer and stout rise in prices, but Lighthouse and Guinness, an international brand produced locally, are not affected. Belikin executives have said that some retailers have taken it on themselves to tack on additional levies which they keep for themselves as profit, raising issues of price-gouging. There’s also been a lot of stockpiling, with bars, restaurants and stores buying huge quantities of Belikin beer and soft drinks at the lower price – so that they can come up more than just a few cents when the price change goes into effect as it did today. Turning to rum, the increase is expected to be between thirty-three and fifty percent, not as bad as the hundred-percent increase we were told was contemplated in the aftermath of the budget. That means it will be somewhere between a three to five dollar increase on a quart. But, again, at this point, that has not been confirmed since all local rum producers are being mum about their prices. The new prices for fuel are as follows as of midnight on April first. Premium fuel increased from ten dollars forty-four cents per gallon to ten dollars seventy-nine cents per gallon. That’s up thirty-five cents per gallon. Regular went up by thirty-two cents per gallon, from nine dollars forty-seven cents to nine dollars seventy-nine cents. Diesel went up by thirteen cents per gallon, from eight dollars ninety-eight cents to nine dollars eleven cents. 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.