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Oct 3, 2017

The P.U.P.’s Prescription for Keeping Fuel Prices Down

John Briceño

After reaching some of their highest levels this year, fuel prices are expected to moderate with the coming shipment of petroleum from Venezuela, as part of a restarted Petrocaribe program. Last week, Prime Minister Dean Barrow gave a lengthy explanation for the price increases, repeating blame on the sputtering Petrocaribe program and the impact of Hurricane Harvey, then categorically promised to have Government eat any tax increases if prices did not go down as expected. Based on his response, Opposition Leader John Briceño is skeptical.

 

John Briceño, P.U.P. Leader

“Do you feel comfort by the Prime Minister’s words? A man that constantly changes his mind; a man that you can’t keep him to his word? A man who promised this country that he was going to keep the fuel under seven dollars, and that if the fuel price were to go up by one dollar he would reduce the tax? A man who right now, the tax on fuel, on premium, is over five dollars? And you are comforted by his words? I don’t think so. The fact is that today, the price of fuel, of oil has been going down and there is no way why its supposed to be at this high price. And he will tell you, he wants to blame Petrocaribe because they did not have the necessary supplies and they have to buy from somewhere else – well then, if you do that, then reduce the tax. All he needs to do, he could easily take off two dollars tax and keep the price under ten dollars. That’s the least he can do; the least he can do. But yet, he continues to tax we with the fuel, with the G.S.T. – I mean he is putting new taxes on new products on G.S.T. – so we are feeling that pressure as Belizeans. And his words gives me no comfort.”

 

This afternoon, the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry held government to its commitment to reduce the cost of fuel. The B.C.C.I. welcomed the Prime Minister’s public assurance that the pump prices of fuel will drop by mid-October 2017 with the arrival of the next fuel shipment.  According to B.C.C.I., with taxes comprising up to forty-three percent of end prices to the consumer, Government is in the best position to manage pump prices. In the same vein, the Chamber called for a long-term fuel pricing policy to ease the burden on consumers and the private sector while impressing on G.O.B. the need to crack down on tax evaders and collect the millions of dollars lost in government revenue each year. 

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