Prime Minister Addresses Rising Cost of Living Concerns
In an interview with Prime Minister John Briceno, following Friday’s House Meeting, one of the issues brought to him was the continued cost of living. The complaints have come from many corners, on the rise in food prices, the high cost of gasoline as well as the price gouging happening at various stores. It is an issue that the Prime Minister could not run away from, and did indicate that his government is doing its best to tackle these social problems, despite them being a trickle effect from the current global inflation.
Hon. John Briceño, Prime Minister of Belize: “Well, as you know, when earlier, when the crisis started with the high cost of fuel initially we said that we were going to borrow from Central Bank, so that if we reduce by 1 million we can borrow 1 million from Central Bank and then when the prices start to go down we will keep the price within a reasonable point to try to collect back some of the taxes and pay it back. Fortunately, we did not have to borrow the money. We managed to do with what we have and so now, last year, we gave up over $30 million. We are reducing the price slowly, not fast enough, but we’re trying to get back a little bit of that money so that we can continue to do the work of the government. There are so many needs in this country. Yesterday I was in San Pedro where we inaugurated the Boca del Rio two lane bridge, a concrete bridge. The PUP Council took office the first day and they told them that bridge is falling down. The UDP Town Council knew that, the UDP Central Government knew that but they did nothing. It’s symptomatic of the decay and the abandonment of the UDP Government. Now we have to fix it. So we need whatever money we can get.”
It was just last month that the Financial Secretary, Joseph Waight, stated that the government is still trying to recover the monies used to establish the fuel contingency fund. In 2021, the Briceno Administration chose to cap the taxes on diesel and regular gas, which has translated to a loss of some 20 million dollars in revenue. The fuel contingency fund was established to balance the losses in taxes which, according to Waight, will take the government an estimated five years to recover the taxes lost.