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Apr 27, 2017

Cruel Fuel Hike Raises Cost of Living; Exports in Sugar and Banana Rebound

According to the latest statistics released by the Statistical Institute of Belize, though food prices are down slightly, Belizeans are feeling the pain of a higher cost of living due to hefty increases in prices in the transport category. The prices of goods and services regularly purchased by Belizean households were two point three percent higher than the same time last year. Fuel and lubricant prices are thirteen percent higher, led by premium gasoline which rose from eight to ten dollars and diesel rising from seven to nine dollars.  International airfare prices have also risen significantly. Beef, poultry and egg prices were reduced contributing to a modest overall decrease for food and non-alcoholic beverages, but home rental, particularly in Dangriga, Belmopan and San Ignacio/Santa Elena, kept prices for housing and utilities up. The average price for butane rose fifteen percent from just under eighty-four dollars last year to over ninety-six dollars this March. All municipalities saw increases in consumer prices but while Punta Gorda’s was smallest at just under one percentage point, Belmopan’s prices rose by close to four percent.

In trade news, sugar is leading the rebound of Belize’s exports for the month of March, though a sizable gap still remains in the trade column. According to the S.I.B., Belize exported close to seventy million dollars in goods but imported more than twice that, at one hundred and fifty-five million. Sugar was the most significant export earner, while banana exports also saw earnings up by over two million dollars from last year. Exports of citrus products, however, fell by roughly the same amount due to diminished grapefruit concentrate sales. Imports to the Commercial Free Zones dropped by almost a third, with cigarettes, women’s clothing and storage bags among the most reduced items. Belize is also importing fewer four cylinder vehicles, liquid transformers and telecommunications equipment.

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