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PM Briceno Says GOB’s Hands are Tied, When it Comes to High Fuel Prices

The rising price of fuel has Belizeans across the country up in arms. Especially since the price of fuel affects many businesses. Fuel prices were constantly unstable since Dean Barrow was Prime Minister. Back then John Briceno was the Leader of the Opposition and he constantly criticized the then UDP Government for not addressing the high price of fuel. Now Briceno is in the Prime Minister’s seat and is now tasked in addressing this matter. In October, Cabinet expressed concern about the rising cost of fuel and, in that regard, agreed to a team to look at possible mitigation measures. However, no mitigation measures have been put in place and that’s because it’s easier said than done. On Friday during the House of Representatives PM Briceno explained why addressing the matter is vexing.

Hon. John Briceno, Prime Minister of Belize: “The issue of fuel is a vexing one because fuel is one of – and they know it very well that is one of the items where we get a large portion of the tax for the country. The point is that for every ten cents that we will remove from the tax it means that we lost $3 million dollars. And if we were to say we’re going to reduce the fuel by ten cents people will say ‘what are you doing ? Playing with us?’ So if we were to move a dollar we’re still at $11 you’re talking about $36 million dollars. We have made a promise that we will be looking at the issue of the cost on fuel. We have appointed a small committee within Cabinet to look at that very same thing to see how if we are acquiring the fuel at the lowest price that we possibly can and that the prices that are being paid, the charges that are made before it gets to Belize that are reasonable. That has never been done before you know. You know Esso and now I think Puma now they just come and tell you this is what we buy, this is what it costs and we move from there. We want to ensure that the numbers we are given – and we’re not in any way suggesting that there’s anything wrong with it but we need to take a look at it to make sure that we get the cheapest price possible so that we could find every which way to reduce the cost of fuel.”