Government of Belize Adds Controlled Food Prices to Blunt the Pain of Soaring Inflation
The Government of Belize announced yesterday in its Cabinet Brief that they would be adding to the list of controlled food prices. It is welcoming news as inflation has skyrocketed in recent years with food prices, doubling, and in some cases, reaching a triple markup. According to the Minister of Human Development, Dolores Balderamos Garcia, there has been a collaboration with the Ministry of Food Security, in compiling the list of food items, whilst exploring ways of monitoring the compliance of retailers and merchants. According to Balderamos-Garcia, the government is currently looking at a ticketing system for those store owners who do not comply.
Dolores Balderamos Garcia, Minister of Human Development: “It is with pleasure that I speak on the decision made by Cabinet recently to expand the basic food basket of regulated food items from only nine to a comprehensive 43 items. As we all are all aware, the cost of living around the world has been a pressing concern and Belize is no exception. Before this expansion of regulated goods was made there was no markup cap. And I want to pause to really acknowledge the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Enterprise, led by our good colleague Honorable Jose Abelardo Mai and his team. The expansion, Madam Speaker, of the basic food basket considers the importance of what many Belizeans buy and consume regularly. And plus, there is a selection in the list, which I will read, of vegetables, whole grains, and some lean proteins. Madam Speaker, allow me to share all the 30 food items to be regulated with a maximum retail markup of 15 percent and these are food items. So the maximum markup that would be allowed and again we have to monitor it closely, the maximum retail markup would be 15 percent on butter, evaporated milk, eggs, baby cereal, infant formula, creamers, cocoa powder, corn flour, other beans in addition to red kidney beans, oats, oatmeal is very healthy, cereal and corn flakes, chicken sausage, corned beef, tuna, baking powder, yeast, cooking oil, shortening, chicken cuts, ground beef, carrots, onion, cabbage, sweet pepper, potato, tomato, macaroni and cheese, peanut butter, condensed milk, and the five gallon bottled water. So we would allow a 15% markup but not more on all those 30 food items.”
Also coming out of Cabinet on Wednesday, was the approval of the investment of six million dollars into the Development Finance Corporation (DFC) earmarked to assist shrimp farmers with the aim of boosting the shrimp sector. The interest rate for borrowers will range between five point five to seven point five percent. To further help shrimp farmers, the government has made a request to the Belize Electricity Limited to accommodate shrimp farmers with the industrial rate for power.