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Feb 7, 2022

Fuel Tax Nets $150 Million Annually; PM Says Not Time to Lower the Number One Revenue Earner Yet

While the two parties have lambasted the government for hiking fuel prices, Prime Minister John Briceño said on Friday that his government is committed to lowering the price of gasoline. But, he says it is the government’s largest source of tax revenue and G.O.B. still relies on it heavily.  


John Briceño

Prime Minister John Briceño

“We have said and we stand by it, that we want to keep the price of fuel – we said mostly diesel – at no more than nine dollars because that is what the productive sector uses; and we want to do that. We expect to do that in time to come. But remember that when we took over the government, the government was bankrupt. We had no money. Fuel brings in approximately a hundred and fifty million dollars of revenues to the government in a year. That’s the largest revenue earner of the government. For every ten cents that we take off the tax, we lose three million dollars. So if we remove a dollar, that means thirty million dollars in taxes are going to be lost. And if we lose that thirty million dollars in taxes, we need to get it somewhere else. Where are we going to raise taxes? We have not raised taxes; we have not raised the tax on fuel since we came into government. We have not. Right now because of the severe storms and winter that the United States is having the price of fuel goes up. The demand goes up so the price goes up and then we poor Belize are suffering the consequences. Now what is it that we’re doing? At the moment, I have asked the Ministry of Finance to prepare a report. I will take it to the Cabinet for us to discuss because I do believe and I feel (along) with Belizeans that the price of fuel is too high. I am in that business; my brother and I own two service stations so we hear it from people every day. So of course we want to reduce the price, but when we do that we have to do it responsibly. Now you’re saying that the economy has rebounded, yes the economy has rebounded, but remember from what deep a hole we were (in) and in 2019 the government was already in a bad shape. And by 2020 it was next to bankrupt. So by the time we get to 2019 levels it does not mean that we’re out of the woods. And that’s what I’m explaining to my colleagues every day. We’re not there yet. We need to ensure that we have more growth, more sustainable growth and we could be in strong financial footing to be able to provide the services that our Belizean people need and deserve and addressing the price of fuel is certainly one of them. We have to find a way how we can do that.”


The two parties say they envision a Monetary Sovereign Belize, starting with an investment in a national fuel ethanol plant in northern Belize.

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