Sunday, April 14, 2024

Government plans on addressing inflation affecting Belizeans

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The continued increase in the price of goods and services is taking a toll across Belize. In areas like San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, where the cost of living is higher, the situation is more alarming. Island residents report that prices for basic food items increase weekly, adding to the struggle to survive. While inflation has become a worldwide issue, the Government of Belize (GOB) has discussed the matter and, on Thursday, March 30th, announced several measures to address the concerning problem.
The discussion in Cabinet agreed to set up meetings with wholesalers and retailers to ensure that all understand the situation’s urgency. This was tabled with a view to price control of goods and services. GOB also discussed establishing the practice of store inspections and monitoring as offered by the different unions (teacher and business unions) across the country. The report from the government also touched on revisiting the list of basic commodities to expand the number of goods that are price-controlled while also looking at the grocery bag program to ensure Belizeans who need help the most are benefitted. The next step now is to establish the mechanisms to put these action plans to work.
Many stakeholders on the island shared that prices of goods will continue to increase if they need to pay their suppliers. In addition, another cause of the cost increase is the fact that all goods need to be transported from the mainland to San Pedro. Stakeholders stressed that if something is not done, the continued increase in the cost of products and transportation will affect everyone, distributors and consumers.
On Wednesday, March 29th, the Statistical Institute of Belize (SIB) presented the latest figures on inflation. According to them, the prices for food and non-alcoholic beverages are the most affected. According to SIB, the increase in prices for the months of January and February was mainly due to higher restaurant and food services. Their report indicates that the increase was 14.9%, contributing to more than 50% overall inflation. Other items like flour, egg, vegetable oil, fruits, vegetables, and dairy products experienced an increase of more than 10%.

The inflated prices, SIB explained, are not only triggered by the worldwide situation but also because of Belize’s strong dependency on imported goods. They pointed out that in January and February, imports continued to increase while exports fell again.

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