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Foreign Minister expects economic effects for Belize as a result of Ukraine war; investigating whether Belizeans are trapped there

Posted: Friday, February 25, 2022. 3:20 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: Minister of Foreign Affairs Eamon Courtenay says Belize and other developing countries can expect a period of instability related to the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine half a world away.

Both countries are critical oil and gas suppliers, with Russia second to the U.S. as an exporter of crude oil and natural gas. It is expected that fuel prices will and, in some cases, have already increased and that there will be further interruption of the supply chain and goods getting to stores.

Minister Courtenay told LOVE FM that events in Europe “gives us the clear indication that until this dispute is resolved and resolved peacefully, that there is going to be a significant increase in the acquisition cost of petroleum for Belize. The price of gas and Diesel is already at unacceptably high levels and this is certainly a bad sign for Belize and other developing countries. Additionally, I suspect that there are going to be cyber-attacks. I suspect there are going to be interruptions to certain supply chains. There’s going to be a shortage, for example, wheat, which Russia and the Ukraine are massive producers. I suspect together they produce about 23 percent of the world production of wheat. So that there will be interruptions in supplies of certain goods. The sanctions imposed by countries are going to affect the financial markets, the banking systems and so there is going to be significant disruptions across the globe. Belize is going to be affected. There is no way that we can escape it and we are going to be affected in a bad way. So we have to monitor it. We have to hope that normalcy returns fairly soon in order that we can get back to constructive and development work.”

The Minister added that we can expect these effects in the coming weeks and that the Government has a double-edged sword of ensuring cost of living remains where it is while also guaranteeing revenue for the Government. He mentioned that this will affect discussions on the return of the 10 percent salary cut or at least a portion of it, to public officers: “This type of activity really makes it more difficult for us to do but I know that Prime Minister is trying and the Ministry of Finance is looking at every way that we can restore the 10 [percent]. We go into retreat [Thursday afternoon and Friday] and this is one of the items that’s high on the agenda.”

Separately, the Foreign Minister made an appeal for those who know any Belizeans in Ukraine to contact the government to get assistance for them to relocate, as CARICOM and Belize’s missions abroad actively hunt for these persons – Belize does not have an embassy or consulate in the country.

And Prime Minister John Briceño indicated that the Government has already had to absorb at least one one-dollar increase for diesel fuel for a recent shipment, forgoing 1 ½ million dollars in taxes, but that can only continue for so long, he said.

 

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