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Sep 5, 2017

P.U.P. Demand Fuel Tax Cut as Belizeans Seethe About Increase

Outrage has been widespread in the twenty-four hours since the Government of Belize’s announcement on Monday that fuel prices are to go up once again for the fourth time in several weeks. It is not yet known by how much prices will go up and when the new prices take effect, but officially, the situation is blamed on the closure of oil refineries near Houston, Texas, due to damage caused by Hurricane Harvey, and the subsequent need to bring in refined goods from El Salvador at what is reported to be a higher cost by government. On social media, there is talk of protests at the gas stations and cries from Belizeans that they cannot live in the country any more. Fuel was targeted by government for increases in March’s budget, to cover revenue shortfalls, for which the Prime Minister apologized at that time, and promised future reductions. With no changes in store, Opposition Leader John Briceño offered a simple solution – reducing taxes, which he estimates take as much as half of the price at the pump.

 

John Briceño

John Briceño, P.U.P. Leader

“We need to understand why the price of fuel has been so artificially high in Belize; it has been high because of the taxes. The last time I checked, the Government was charging – of every dollar that you were paying at the pump, the Government is charging fifty cents; almost fifty percent of what you pay at the pump goes to the Government in taxes. Now, because you already it so artificially high, and the prices are going to continue to go up; the Government has a moral responsibility to the people of this country to see how they can control that. So what they need to do is start to cut the taxes, so if the increase is by a dollar, then they can take away at least a dollar from the taxes to at least keep it where it is; as opposed to the easy thing – it went up so I am going to charge more. The point is that the Government is charging as much as fifty percent in taxes; so for every ten dollars you go and pay at the pump, five dollars goes to the Government of Belize. Cut the taxes, Prime Minister!  The taxes on the fuel is way too high; and the people are punishing, the people are suffering, because fuel is the engine of everything; we need fuel for everything in this economy.”

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