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Jan 29, 2014

Statistical Institute of Belize Report: Imports are up, exports down

The Statistical Institute of Belize today hosted a press briefing to provide an update on comparative unemployment, inflation and external trade statistics for 2013. Traditionally the institute is accessed only through releases or visits to the website…and frequently, those statistics are perceived to be manipulated for state purposes. That’s because public perception is a weighty thing, perhaps even more so that black and white figures on a printout. Still, the S.I.B. continues to churn out statistics, and is even seeking to dispel those pesky criticisms of manipulation by making themselves, and their statistics, much more accessible by the wider public. Today was the launch of the new, visible S.I.B. and Mike Rudon has the story, and the stats.

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Mike Rudon, Reporting

In addition to sending out regular stat sheets and emails, the SIB has scheduled six press conferences in 2014. It’s a new initiative designed to allow the SIB to reach out to the public, making data more accessible, understandable and user friendly. That’s a good thing by any estimation, since figures and percentages are a foreign language to many. Today Director of the Institute Glen Avilez opened the conference with the news that exports have decreased, while imports have grown.

 

Glen Avilez

Glen Avilez, Director, Statistical Institute of Belize

“We had a very strong increase in imports in 2013 compared to other years. In 2013 we imported a total of one point nine billion dollars worth of goods from the rest of the world. This is an increase of eight percent or roughly a hundred and thirty-three million dollars. When compared to the previous years it was a much higher performance, a stronger performance.”

 

Imports increased in all areas with the exception of oils and fats. The sectors showing the most significant increase were machinery and transport equipment. Domestic exports, on the other hand, have decreased, largely because of a decline in oil production.

 

Glen Avilez

“Unlike imports, they contract in 2013. Exports were at their highest level in 2011 and in 2012 they dipped, well they fell; it was more than a dip. And again in 2013 there was another fall. This fall was eight percent, almost matching the growth in imports. The decrease in our exports revenues were largely due to lower oil and citrus receipts. In fact these two products combined for ninety million dollars less revenues.”

 

Areas which showed the strongest performance in export revenue were marine products and animal feed. Imports increased by eight percent, while exports fell by eight percent, making for what economists call a widening trade imbalance. Doesn’t sound like a positive thing, but there is some positive news – inflation was up by only point five percent, when averaged out between 2012 and 2013.

 

Glen Avilez

“We have a basket of two hundred and sixty goods and services, which our officers in the back and some who are not present today, collected on at least a quarterly basis. We have food prices and fuel prices which are collected monthly so we can monitor the change in these goods. Price collection occurs in all urban areas with the exception of Benque Viejo and San Pedro Ambergris Caye. So Corozal Town, Orange Walk Town, Belize City, Belmopan, Dangriga, Punta Gorda any place missed San Ignacio, thank you. Between, and this is a point to point change, between December 2012 and December 2013, the CPI increased by one point six percent.”

 

One point six percent, averaged out over the calendar year, amounts to a mere zero point five percent. And see, that’s where perception and figures meet in a head on collision. Widespread belief is that the cost of goods and services continues to go up, which makes inflation of only point five percent seems incredible, or maybe even manufactured.

 

Glen Avilez

“What we have the benefit of is that we do price collection in all parts of the country. People will talk to you about their individual situations. And yes a number of goods have seen an increase over the years, particularly food items. Food items are now about three point six percent higher than they were last year. But if you would talk to those same persons about items like clothing, which has remain constant for the most part has been fallen; that is to be considered. There are quite a number of goods whose prices have not changed over that period. So we have the extremes of some goods increasing I think in your kit, there are few examples of some goods having double digit increases and then there are those that have fallen during the year. Then you have in the middle, a large number of goods whose prices have remained relatively flat. And so doing the simple math of averaging a thousand zeros, am sorry, we only have two hundred and sixty items. Lets day there are seventy-five items whose prices have remained flat at zero, it cancels out those that have been increasing by ten percent, eight percent and so we end up with the zero point five percent.”

 

According to Avilez, Belize’s current inflation rates are consistent with those in Canada and the US, which have gone down. Mike Rudon for News Five.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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5 Responses for “Statistical Institute of Belize Report: Imports are up, exports down”

  1. Ricky Malthus says:

    No matter how SIB slice and dice the data on imports, exports, and draw pictorials to amplify its conclusions, the well trained eyes can deduce the illogical conclusions forced fitted to false raw quantifications. Examples: inflation continues to spiral because government’s taxes keep going up, all kinds of unemployment keep escalating except the non-productive government sector. Everyone wants a government job with a steady paycheck, perks , and retirement with pension at 55 years. Productivity to increase GDP is non-existent as long as unemployment remains at its current level of 30 to 40 percent. The Chinese have a stranglehold on the food distribution and boledo business and they don’t employ Belizeans. The Mennonites control agriculture, and they don’t employ Belizeans. So these are some of the core disturbances that SIB need to articulate rather than try to add to the confusion by offering up false quantifications to assuage the political directorate.

  2. TRUTH says:

    Economic data can ALWAYS be manipulated to meet a certain goal. But
    what about Quality of Life Data? Are we living in a Better Country Today? NO!
    Are our graduates easily able to Find a Job in Small-Scale Manufacturing,
    Fisheries, Agriculture or Retail? NO! Do we have a Better Educational System
    that rewards teachers for their hard labour? NO! Have More Entrepreneurial Opportunities
    been Created? NO! Are You Safer in your home? NO! Do you Trust Government? NO!…
    IS the Government of Belize Corrupt? YES!

  3. oscar965 says:

    The department may have great statisticians but they data that they gather is pure garbage and not reliable. They mostly use high school kids whom they pay next to nothing to gather the data. Those kids do not have any professionalism and even if they are given a single training course, they do not perform professionally. And I know this cause I have been interviewed by one of them.

  4. LOL says:

    Belize needs to be more of a production type of economy. We need progress, we need development, we need growth, sadly none of that will happen unless the greedy political can get some kind of monetary benefit from such implementations.

  5. Miguel Bonilla says:

    I’ve seen the presentation SIB mounted and according to their statistics, they’re correct. They mentioned that ~60 goods (e.g. clothing) have shown no increase in price (inflated), but they should note that those goods are not perishable, hence people fail to notice their gradual increase. As long as the price of basic needs increase, people will keep complaining and go against their claims. Sometimes, “statistics are collected in an inappropriate manner that no statistical torturing can salvage them”, please ensure proper procedures are being followed guys.

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