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Jul 20, 2004

Fuel up again; 50% is tax

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Anyone who depends on motorised transport–and eventually that means all of us–took another hit in the wallet today as the price of the latest shipment of petroleum-based fuels rose to record heights. The effect at the gas pump was nothing short of devastating as premium gasoline skyrocketed thirty-two cents to eight dollars and thirty-three cents per gallon, regular jumped by twenty-nine cents to eight dollars and two cents and diesel climbed twelve cents to five sixty-six.

While virtually all of the latest increase was accounted for in the higher acquisition cost–that is the price charged by sole importer, ESSO Belize Limited–a breakdown of the pump price is revealing. Looking at a gallon of premium, for example, the largest single component is taxes, which total four dollars and eighteen cents. Next comes the three dollars and twelve cents charged by ESSO, followed by the distributor–again ESSO, joined by Shell and Texaco–who take forty-one cents per gallon. After that, the truckers receive seven cents for delivering to the retailer–your local gas station–who’s share of the pump price comes to fifty-five cents.

This breakdown changes significantly for the more economical diesel, for which government charges much less tax, but even at two dollars and twenty-nine cents per gallon the tax bite is not small.

This is not to say that Belmopan should cut its share–any more than it should cut customs duties or income tax–as the fuel levies make up an increasingly important share of the nation’s tax base.

But as the volatility of the planet?s politics and the greed of the world?s oil companies continue to grow, the future for countries like Belize looks increasingly bleak. While some tax incentives do favour fuel-efficient diesel pickups, for example, the number of gas guzzling SUVs brought in under duty free concessions continues to confound common sense.

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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