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Mar 6, 2009

…And announces fuel prices to go up again

According to Prime Minister Barrow, the economic challenges facing the country are even greater for 2009-2010 due to the two natural disasters of 2008, the rapid slump in the world price of petroleum and the financial meltdown occurring across the world. Nonetheless, the P.M. says his government will bring the nation out of the crisis… and while public servants will see their wages unfrozen, some pain will be felt in the pocketbooks when it comes to fuel prices.

Prime Minister Dean Barrow
“The Government is holding high its commitment to the education, health, social and physical wellbeing of the Belizean public. To this end, we are allocating additional budget expenditures to those priority areas of education, health, food security and physical infrastructure.”

“On the revenue side, Mr. Speaker, we do not propose to introduce any new tax measures apart from an increase in the rate of Import Duty leviable on Gasolines and Diesel Oil. There is, of course, a complementary increase in the Excise Tax on local production of these same items in order to maintain equity in the rate of taxes applied to these products regardless of origin. It is not expected that this latter—that is, the excise on local production—will yield significant additions to revenue as it is projected that higher sales of local petroleum product will be offset by lower sales of similar imported products.”

“The increase we are proposing is only $1.00 per gallon on gasolines and diesel. This amounts to less than one half of the taxes that were removed over the last year alone. It will still keep diesel at below the $6.00 per gallon mark, and gasoline at below $7.00 per gallon mark. Butane, on which there is no tax, will not be affected. In doing our calculation we were guided by best estimates of where the acquisition costs for the refined products will be over the next year. If for any reason these turn out to be significantly higher than the experts predict, it is my promise that we would then come back and take off as much of this dollar increase as would put things back in alignment for the Belizean people. This revenue measure is, despite the $60 million financing gap that we needed to close, and which we have closed, the only increase we are implementing. It is as painless as we can make it. This single step will yield thirty million dollars. And that took us halfway to closing the financing gap. Government’s economic diplomacy did the rest and we are now, so to speak, home free.”

“We’re proposing an allocation of $276.6 million for Personal Emoluments. This reflects an addition of $16.6 million, but it is to provide for the full year effect of the U.D.P.’s restoration of the salary increment frozen in the year 2005. It also to provide for the normal salary increments, which we are committed to maintain which fall due in 2009.”

“Government is proposing to increase capital expenditures significantly to $163.5 million for fiscal year 09-10. In the Capital II, the locally funded program, Government proposes to expend $63.4 million from its own resources. This is to carry out small local projects but, more so, to provide for adequate levels of counterpart funds for the externally financed projects in the Capital III Program.”

The one dollar fuel increase will not be applied to Kerosene. An increase of four point eight million dollars has been budgeted to finance the National Health Insurance, K.H.M.H. will receive three million dollars more in grants, educational institutions will get two million more, while five million dollars is slated for social assistance and community support programs. There were several motions for loans including six million from the International Fund for Agricultural Development and just under four million from the CABEI, both for rural financing; ten million from the I.D.B. for emergency road rehabilitation due to the 2008 floods; and approximately seven million from the OPEC Fund for International Development for the Solid Waste Management Project.


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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