Minister of Agriculture Recognizes Lack of Communication on Bread Price Increase

Minister of Agriculture Recognizes Lack of Communication on Bread Price Increase

The Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Jose Mai, has accepted his ministry’s shortcomings in not informing the public about the increase in bread prices. On Monday, the cost of a 16-ounce pack of bread shot up by 35 cents, but Belizeans would not have known about the increase if it were not for the media. Despite the House of Representatives meeting on Thursday, the Minister of Agriculture did not inform the public nor did his ministry put out a release. Today, Mai accepted that his ministry erred in not informing the public and spoke on the increase that could have been higher. 

Jose Abelardo Mai, Minister of Agriculture: “I believe that the ministry had made an announcement. I was really made to understand that it was gazetted I think.”

Reporter: It was. 

Jose Abelardo Mai, Minister of Agriculture: “Right, but I believe that yes an announcement that saying now the price of bread now has moved from so to so. So you are right in that. We erred in that statement. Nevertheless, that doesn’t take away that the cost of bread, of everything has gone up. And we were –  look that matter we took to cabinet a number of times and many of the ministers were worried. Everybody was worried about the high cost even me. But when the bread makers showed us the accosts, man how is that you’ll survive at this price? Now they wanted a 75 cents increase, right? And we said that cannot be because we were already, we subsidizing 25 cents. So we said, no we are prepared to go 10 cents above us. We went to 35 cents. But they didn’t implement it until a while because you are waiting for us maybe to bend and twist and say yeah we’ll give you 70 cents but that could not be the agreement because cabinet had said listen we’re not prepared to go more that 35 cents. Now that is where we are with that. It slipped me. I didn’t think about it. To be honest I thought it was implemented already until I saw the news and I said what is going on here and then Jules made it public. But I think yeah we should have made a statement. It did happen, to me it’s a learning experience and we’re gonna correct next time. We can’t make that same blunder.”

And while the government says it held off on approving the increase for as long as it could, the opposition says the government could have done better. Leader of the Opposition, Moses Barrow, told the media that he believes other measures could have been taken to appease the bakers. 

Moses “Shyne” Barrow, Leader of the Opposition: “Bread has gone up. Pack bread that used to be dollar and change is now two dollars and change under the Briceno administration. And they have no shame. Wait until after the municipal elections and raise the price of bread and unu tek it. And this is another betrayal of the promises that the Briceno administration made to the Belizean people to be a government that was compassionate, a government that was understanding of the plight of the day to day Belizeans. This increase in bread does not reflect a government that understands that and we understand that this is driven by the highest energy prices ever, energy prices which have stabilized globally because Ukraine and Russia have become a matter of fact that globally at least in the Americas the prices have gone down but we’re certainly not at the crisis peak that we were when the war in Ukraine first started but here in Belize the prices remain as high as ever and especially in the districts In Toledo, in Corozal the cost of living is exponentially higher than here in the city and places where the goods come central. So imagine we pay an exorbitant amount here in the city then it goes to Toledo.”

The control price for a 16-ounce pack of bread is now $2.10.

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