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Mar 23, 2011

Skyrocketing fuel prices, but cash to gas ratio is low

Debate on the budget 2011-2012 starts this Thursday and you can expect fiery opposition from one side of the house. One issue that is surely to get its share of attention has to with the removal of GST on gasoline and diesel and its replacement with an increase in import duties. That measure was announced on March eleventh when the budget was presented and by this Monday, it had sent the prices of fuel through the roof. News Five’s Isani Cayetano found out that while GST on fuel was refundable to the business sector, it doesn’t now apply to the new regime.

The spread of consequences from recent instability in Egypt as well as the ongoing political turmoil in Libya, both countries whose economies are heavily reliant upon the export of oil and petroleum respectively, is far-reaching.  The ripple effect has seen a spike in the cost of fuel on the world market.

Isani Cayetano

Isani Cayetano

“On the home front Belizeans have been suffering from severe gas pains at the pump prior to the unrest in the Middle East.  Another upsurge in fuel prices which took effect earlier this week has left consumers with a burning hole in their pockets.”

At the beginning of the year the cost per gallon of premium gasoline rose to ten dollars and twenty-nine cents and has remained on a steady increase.  In early January Prime Minister Barrow told News Five that projections made by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries would not exceed eighty US dollars per barrel of crude oil in 2011.  As such government had no need to revisit the one-dollar fuel tax it levied a few years earlier.

Dean Barrow

“The OPEC people are saying that they expect oil for 2011 to trade between the seventy and eighty dollar per barrel range. If that’s what happens, there is no need for me to revisit the tax. If this drops now back down to under ninety-dollars a barrel doesn’t hold, if it goes back up about ninety dollars a barrel and trading at over ninety dollars a barrel does hold for three months or so, then at budget time I will have to do something.”

Three months and three consecutive increases later the cost per gallon of diesel has climbed sharply to well within the twelve-dollar range.  Prior to this most recent hike the P.M. during the 2011-2012 Budget Presentation stated that an S.I. would be enacted to exempt gasoline from General Sales Tax.

Dean Barrow (File: March 11th, 2011)

“For effective this very day, we will sign into a law a statutory instrument that will zero rate the GST on gasoline, illuminating kerosene and diesel. In its place, we will increase the import duty on gasoline and diesel at a fixed specific rate amount. This amount will not be equivalent to what the GST take is currently—at over one hundred U.S. dollars per barrel, but it will be equivalent to what the GST take was when the world oil prices were in the U.S. eighty-five dollar per barrel range. In effect Mister Speaker, the Government will no longer gain, however slightly, from any rise in international oil prices.”

The change in policy has brought with it a slew of concerns from the business sector.  Foremost among them is the fact that they will no longer be able to recover GST on fuel acquisition.  Government on the other hand will see an increase in revenue because it will not refund those monies. For Esso Standard Oil—the largest local importer—that cost is passed on to its primary buyers, Sol Belize and Chevron Belize Limited.  They in turn are caught between absorbing the additional dollar per gallon of fuel and raising prices at the pump to compensate for the shortfall.

At the Belize Diesel Service Station in Belize City consumers can take advantage of a discount being offered on the cost per gallon.

Andre Castillo

Andre Castillo, Manager, Belize Diesel Service Station (File: February 24th, 2011)

What we’re trying to let everyone know is about a promotion that we’re going to have starting this Sunday and going on every Sunday in March. We’re offering fifteen cents off per gallon of fuel. It’s just a way of giving back to our customers. Right now the price of fuel is through the roof and it’s just a way of showing gratitude to the customers that have been managing the Texaco Gas Station here. So it’s just a way of saying thanks and as well trying to improve on sales and trying to bring about more clientele to our gas station.”

Beyond the individual sales promotion is a lingering question, why an abrupt change in standard procedure which has been to move away from import duties in favour of consumption taxes? Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

According to one business person, the new import duty will also impact domestic production, which means that locally produced goods will be more costly.

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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8 Responses for “Skyrocketing fuel prices, but cash to gas ratio is low”

  1. rod says:

    more money for barrows pockets and his family pockets the poor belizeans just keep taking and taking it up the yazoo without grease wake up belizeans wake up we need to rid ourselves of this impotent and useless gov. power to my belizeans people march marchhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh resign barrow resign do the country and its people a big favor and resign you are a disgrace to this country.

  2. BDF soldier says:

    Back in the colonial days,it was the English white man who en slave belizeans ancestry,in our days in belize is the Negroes(90% of them are LAWYERS)who have converted the tiny country in a third world land..This is exactly how Communist behave in belize,Law firms behave the same way,they are cruel with humans,and the pup and udp are a LAW-FIRM who deal with belizeans with cruelty.why do belizeans keep supporting such criminals as politicians,and ministers?its is a mistery to me.could it be that it is because they have no other way?

  3. superman says:

    Stop crying and pay. I need money. And stop with the old story that the children have to eat. It’s old and doesn’t work. Have to go back to guard my money.
    Dean B.

  4. Elgin Martinez says:

    Use your vehicle when necissary and go back to the bicycle.This will also put a hurt on the owners of these fuel companies.

  5. mylegacyb4mypeople says:

    Looks like the government just refuses to touch the Liquor and cigarette, it’s obvious they want the public to be intoxicated and addicted to nicotine, why hike import duties all this will do is cripple the already crippled economy even more since a large percentage of the money collected at the customs is going in the pockets of those corrupted civil servants and officials anyhow the customs department is just another cash cow that fuels the wealth building legacy scheme of this corrupted government. Remember, My Legacy B 4 My People.

  6. Earl Grey says:




    WHY IMPORT OIL????????????
    The government should control it and REMOVE THE TAXES FROM THE BACKS OF THE PEOPLE.

  7. roughneck says:

    does anyone know the breakdown of the cost of fuel how much government get how much gas staion get and how much goes bak out seem to me out of all these comment you are eithe uneducated or dont want to see the big picture the government gave u back btl gave so much after the others before took so much guess u expect change overnight the taxes u paying on fuel is not going into barrows pocket it has already gone into musa fonseca and the rest pocket he is just tryin to payback the deeds they have done so we dont fall into worst times its a sacrifice we all have to make due to the messes up ways of our past leaders its a hard one but i applaud the dude for doing it he could have easily came in and did what the rest did a boorrow borrow and not pay back eventually someone would have an then really really harder time would come it simple look to the future not the present the present is a mirage

  8. roughneck says:

    now i do agree we should tax rum and cigarette those are not neccessities

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