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Dec 6, 2019

Senators Spar of Barrow’s War Bill against Butane Importers

The government’s war bill against the three major importers of Liquefied Petroleum Gas went to the Senate floor today. Prime Minister Dean Barrow and his government are at war with Belize Western Energy Limited, Gas Tomza, and Southern Choice Butane (Zeta Gas). This week, the PM used words such as mafia and cartel to describe the importers and threatened government will take their stock.  This is because a significant drop in butane prices has forced the hand of the Prime Minister to enact new laws and create a Statutory Instrument that would drastically penalize these three companies if they sell butane below the floor price which government recently set.  The companies’ decision to retail at a low price is good news for consumers, especially during the festive season but the government says that the new prices are predatory, and aimed at eliminating small retailers in the industry.  The controversial bill was today debated in the Senate. 

 

Michel Chebat

Michel Chebat, Lead P.U.P. Senator 

“This piece of legislation reeks of protectionism. This piece of legislation is to support the National Liquefied Petroleum Gas Company which comes into effect in January 2020. This piece of legislation Mr. President is not to protect small retailers as it is couched. This piece of legislation Mr. President is essentially denying lower butane prices at a time Mr. President when we are in the Christmas Season. Why? Why like the scrooge of Christmas we are taking away a small little benefit from the consuming public?  Why is it that we are denying them cheaper butane prices? And the only conclusion that I can come to Mr. President is that this piece of legislation is really to protect a monopoly that has been created by this government.”

 

Aldo Salazar

Aldo Salazar, U.D.P. Senator

“You are not being able to see pass your nose because of politics. That is basically where we are. Because of politics we are looking to criticize this.  Mr. President this has nothing to do with the National Gas Company.  This has nothing to do with protecting National Gas. That is derived from a lack of understanding. National Gas will sell at the landed price plus its market to everybody across the board. What we are dealing with here is the retail part of the business which National Gas will not be involved in.”

 

Ashley Rocke

Ashley Rocke, Senator for Churches

“It is kind of sad that the bill comes at this time because it seems that Christmas is used to justify whether we pass it or not. We do not believe that that is fair because as long as it remains a bill it will be forever. We felt that maybe wrong time for the bill. The fact that when you look at the bill and how Belize was being fleeced for so many years by these people and the fact the whole intention seems to be to close down the small man and the fact that there is a new animal that is coming on stream I think it was incumbent then to protect the small investors.”


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