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May 16, 2018

What’s Behind Fuel Price Hikes

The prices of fuel at the gas pumps are up yet again.  Those increases come almost two weeks after the last hike and will see the cost of premium gasoline decreasing nominally.  The overall increase is being attributed to an uptick in the cost per barrel of oil on the world market, however, PM Barrow made an announcement earlier today that Belize’s fuel supply is no longer coming from Venezuela.  While the Petrocaribe programme has not been done away with, a steadier supply of fuel is necessary in order to meet the demands of Belizean consumers.

 

Dean Barrow

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“When prices to the consumer go up in this country it is as a result of factors completely beyond our control.  We have not raised our tax take on the sale of fuel in this country for the last two years or so and there is no way, I need to make clear, that we can reduce our tax take.  I believe, Financial Secretary, correct me if I am wrong, but for every ten cents that we pull back we lose two or three million dollars from the budget.  But when we said in a press release that was issued, that we’re working with the importers to try to moderate the impact as much as possible, that wasn’t just glib or pious rhetoric. Two things we’ve been working on: number one, when the Petrocaribe arrangements were in place there were certain margins that were agreed with Puma, in shorthand, by way of incentives, to get them to source fuel from PDVSA because of course there were innumerable benefits redounding to Belize in consequence of using Petrocaribe and PDVSA as the source of our fuel supplies.  We’ve stopped placing orders with Venezuela.  I would not agree with anybody who says that that means the Petrocaribe program is at an end.”

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