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Apr 29, 2021

Looking Back at the Cost of Living in March

The S.I.B. released its latest monthly figures on Wednesday indicated that Belize exported more than it imported in March.  The cost of living also inched its way upward as food and butane prices increased.  With a comprehensive look at the latest statistics here’s Isani Cayetano.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

In March, a total of one hundred and seventy-four point eight million dollars in merchandise was brought into the country.  Along with chemical products, imports of manufactured goods increased considerably, by more than thirteen million dollars when compared to the same period in 2020.  The latest figures released by the Statistical Institute of Belize indicate that of the thirty-five million dollars spent on manufactured goods last month, most of that money was used to purchase steel pipe piles.  It simply means that notwithstanding the crushing economic situation, Belizeans continue to build.


Medicines, biodiesel and insecticides attributed to the twenty-eight percent rise in chemical products towards the end of the first quarter.  On the other hand, domestic exports were up by almost twenty percent.  Thirty-three point seven million dollars came in large part from the shipment of citrus products, boosting the sales of orange oil and orange concentrate.  On the downside, imports into the commercial free zones declined by thirteen percent as fewer consumers purchased handbags, clothing and cigarettes.  It’s a loss of roughly three and a half million dollars, despite the fact that the Corozal Free Zone had just opened a few weeks earlier.


Statistics for the first quarter of 2021 show that a little under half a billion dollars was spent on importing merchandise, down thirty-eight point nine million dollars from the same period last year.  The Consumer Price Index also points to the cost of food, butane, rent and personal care products going up by one point five percent in March, which represents inflation.  The cost of food, particularly fresh produce, including lettuce, onions, cabbages, potatoes, limes, natural milk, pigtail and whole chickens, has been inching upward steadily since last April.  As such, food and non-alcoholic beverages saw the highest rate of inflation among the major categories.


A marked increase in the cost of transportation was driven primarily by a spike in the cost of fuels and lubricants.  At the pump, a gallon of diesel went up to ten dollars and twenty cents in March, while premium gasoline was down by sixty-three cents.  With an inflation rate of almost two percent, the twin towns of San Ignacio and Santa Elena recorded the highest increases in consumer prices for March 2021.  Conversely, Corozal experienced lower than average increases in the cost of food items, pet food and restaurant services.

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