Belizeans Experience 5.4% Inflation Rate in First Five Months of 2023
And while more Belizeans were gainfully employed, all Belizeans have had to contend with the rising cost of living. The SIB presentation of its latest Consumer Price Index, which measures inflation, showed that for the first five months of this year, Belizeans paid an average of 5.4 percent more for goods and services. Fluctuations in the cost of food and fuel were notable causes for the increased inflation rate. The SIB’s Elvin Perez explained that costs have been trending upward since 2020.
Melvin Perez, Statistician II, Statistical Institute of Belize: “We can observe that overall prices increased in the first two months but gradually began to decrease until May of 2023. These decreases were primarily due to declining food and fuel prices. While looking at the same period in the year of 2022, we noticed a significant upward trend with prices rising across almost all categories of goods and services, particularly in fuel and food prices. Although there were some minor decreases in the year of 2023, looking at the line graph, prices remain higher on average compared to the average prices in the year of 2022, which is why it reflects a cumulative inflation rate of 5.4%. Looking at the trend line, it is clearly showing us how prices have been moving through the past five years. During the first two years prices remain relatively stable, but starting from November of 2020 they began to increase significantly up to May of 2023. When we compare from the beginning of the spike, which is November of 2020 to May of 2023, we observed an overall increase of 13.5%. This upward trend was primarily driven by higher prices for food, fuel, transportation services and restaurant services. Now looking at the major categories affecting the cumulative inflation rate of 5.4%, first we have the food and non-alcoholic beverages category with prices increasing by 13.9%. It was followed by the restaurant and accommodation services with prices increasing by 10.3%. Then we had the transport category with prices increasing by 2.9%. Recreation, sports and culture increasing by 8.4% while furnishing household equipment and routine household maintenance went up by 4.6%. And lastly, we had personal care, social protection, and miscellaneous goods and services with prices increasing by 2.7%. Now on the other hand, we had the housing, water, electricity, gas, and other fuel with prices decreasing by 0.7%.”
The SIB’s data also shows that inflation rates do differ from district to district. The Director General also took the time to elaborate on how price fluctuations differ on a monthly basis in the districts.
Diana Castillo-Trejo, Director General, Statistical Institute of Belize: “For the first five months of this year, we have an average inflation rate of 5.4%. For the month of May, it was lower than that it was at 3.7%. So what we are seeing since the start of this year is that, yes, prices are still going up but the rate at which they are increasing has been slowing. And so we are seeing now that inflation is driven almost completely by food and factors that have to do with food. Food and non-alcoholic beverages and restaurant services are the categories where we see the most inflation. On the other hand, the category of transport now that we have seen some fall in fuel prices, that category is going downwards. Month to month it varies. There is no one district or municipality that is consistently higher than all the others in terms of inflation. For this month and for this period, I believe it was San Pedro that had the highest rate of inflation. Now one thing to note is that the rate of inflation doesn’t necessarily correlate with how high prices are. It is just how fast they are increasing. You can have a location where prices are relatively low, but all of a sudden they start rising quickly and they will have a high inflation rate and somewhere else where prices can be very high but they don’t move very often and their inflation rate will be low.”
We’ll have more from the SIB later in our newscast.