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Government takes fight with gas “monopoly” to National Assembly

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dean barrow pm of belize

Posted: Wednesday, December 4, 2019. 1:43 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: There was an animated and spirited debate in the House of Representatives on the amendment to the Supplies Control Act, fixing heavier penalties for contravention of associated regulations, specifically the recently passed pricing system for liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) or butane.

Importers – which in reality is one Mexican family controlling the entire supply chain – have lowered prices to $4.20 per gallon just in time for Christmas. But Prime Minister Dean Barrow says to beware of Greeks – or in this case, Mexicans – bearing gifts. They have threatened, PM Barrow stated, to cut off the entire supply if they don’t get their way.

And he foresees that they will significantly lift prices if they can remove the local retailers from the picture, ahead of the arrival of the National Gas Company Limited, which will oversee importation and wholesale sales. A Statutory Instrument will be also be approved to allow Government to go as far as seizing company stock, akin to nationalization. The companies have been described as a “cartel” or “mafia”, and the Prime Minister spoke in war-like terms today, saying that he wanted the best arsenal or armory, so that he could grab the sword, the knife or the gun, to use as needed.

Many, however, have expressed concerns about the legislation which makes it mandatory for suppliers to sell at the government regulated controlled price. Others have noted that the former suppliers now being displaced by the newly formed national company have dropped their prices simply in response to the unfavorable terms for the established gas companies under the new arrangement.

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