GOB makes first reduction in Fuel Prices
Thursday, October 19th, 2017
Following the Government of Belize’s commitment to reduce fuel prices after a record spike, regular gasoline has seen a reduction in price since Friday, October 6th. The dip in price by 84 cents per gallon had been scheduled for mid-October, but after a protest in Belize City demanding lower fuel prices, GOB approved the decrease earlier than scheduled. The Government also announced that the upcoming shipments will aid in the reduction on pump prices for diesel, oil, kerosene and premium gasoline. However the new prices are still to be announced.
For several weeks between the end of August and September fuel prices in Belize rocketed to the highest levels the country has ever seen. Premium gasoline went to almost $12 for a gallon, diesel saw an increase of 37 cents, while regular gasoline went up by 92 cents. On Ambergris Caye, regular gas is the main source of fuel, however, prices are higher from the rest of the country due to the fact that it has to be barged to the island. The recent decrease of 84 cents brings down the price for regular gas to $10.29 in mainland Belize, whereas on Ambergris Caye the price dipped slightly at $10.70 per gallon.
Since Prime Minister, Right Honorable Dean Barrow announced that prices would drop during his Independence Day speech on Thursday, September 21st, residents argued that there was no reason to wait for the price reduction. According to public opinion, if GOB had already agreed to new arrangements with Petrocaribe, fuel prices should be changed immediately.
Leader of the Opposition Honorable John Briceño commented, “Certainly, the issue of fuel has a direct impact on the economy and the productive sector. If we continue to pay high prices for fuel, we are pretty much shooting ourselves in the head.” Briceño argues that GOB can reduce the price even lower, especially to the productive sector and to the ordinary citizens. “Even the middle class can be benefited, because everyone uses fuel and the high cost affects every single individual,” said Briceño. According to Briceño 40 cents out of every dollar paid for fuel goes to the Government, which he believes is “way too much”.
The fuel crisis derived from unreliability of Petrocaribe due to the social unrest and economic crisis that continues to affect Venezuela. The South American country continues to see an escalating economic and political instability. It is believed to have started after Supreme Court magistrates, aligned with socialist President Nicolas Maduro, ruled that it will take over the Opposition-led Congress’ legislative powers, in a move condemned by Opposition parties as an attempt to install a dictatorship. As such, the dire situation in Venezuela has led to high food prices and a lack of basic goods. As a result, the supplies of fuel to Belize became delayed for a period of time. This led the Government to cut them off until a solution could be reached. Belize’s second fuel source in Texas, USA was devastated by Hurricane Harvey and are still recovering until today. This led to fuel distributors in Belize to truck containers of fuel from El Salvador, adding to the cost of acquisition, thus, having to increase the prices at the pumps.
The GOB maintains that with the Petrocaribe agreement reinstated and the impending recovery of oil refineries in Texas, another fuel price increase is not expected anytime soon.
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