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BCCI says high gas prices are hurting the economy

The Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry, BCCI, is calling on the Government of Belize to adopt a policy that minimizes the negative impact on consumers, the private sector and economic growth efforts caused by the cripplingly high pump prices. In a release, the BCCI states quote, “the tax applied to this essential commodity is largely responsible for the prices being within pennies of what they were in 2014, at a time when the “landed cost” per gallon was at least 20% higher. As an example, in September 2014, fuel entered the country at $6.29. In September 2017 under the higher-cost, short-notice arrangements made due to the “changeable” supply from Venezuela, the Cost, insurance and freight value is still roughly $1.20 (or about 20%) less than what it was three years ago when world market prices were about 40% higher. If we were to draw a comparison using today’s landed cost and commercial margin with the highest average rate of taxation used in 2014, pump prices would still be between $1.04 and $1.40 less per gallon.” End of quote. According to the BCCI, even at the pre-April 2017 lower tax rate, the price per gallon of premium would still be between $10.52 and $10.88 compared to today’s price of $11.92.  The Chamber asserts that these higher costs only serve to further damage the competitiveness of Belize’s private sector, and will ultimately raise the cost of living for the average consumer who will have to pay higher prices on transportation, goods and services, and the like. In its release, the BCCI further points out that the higher pump prices continue to incentivize cross-border contraband since it is common knowledge that the average global price of gasoline is at least 30% less than it is sold for in Belize. The Chamber says that this ad hoc and purely revenue-centered tax measure must be replaced by a comprehensive and well-thought-out tax strategy that discontinues the administrative “price gouging” and eases the burden on consumers and businesses.