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To fight inflation, “grow more of what we eat and eat what we grow,” suggests Prime Minister

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Posted: Sunday, February 27, 2022. 10:28 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: Ahead of last week’s Cabinet retreat in the Cayo District, Prime Minister John Briceño said the solution to inflation is, literally, homegrown.

“There is not much unfortunately as you know, probably more than I, that there is not much that we can do. We import most of our food products. What we have to start to do is grow more of what we eat and eat what we grow, but we have to look at how best we could handle that,” the Prime Minister told reporters.

On the same day, however, the Statistical Institute of Belize reported that the rise in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) – how it tracks inflation in the prices of goods – was 3.2 percent for 2021 and increased at an accelerated rate since January, peaking in November.

And much of that increase, according to statistician Melvin Perez, came in transport but also, secondarily, food and non-alcoholic beverages: “prices increasing by 4.8 percent. And this was mainly due to high prices for fresh produce, meat, and cereal products.”

Prices further increased 4.1 percent this January compared to last January, again a combination of food and fuel fueling the rise.

The biggest bites in January come from increases in fuel and lubricant prices as well as the purchase of new motor vehicles, road transport (mainly buses), and air transport (despite the introduction of low-cost airlines such as Frontier and Alaska Airlines and the return of Southwest Airlines).

Nationally, according to Perez, “It can clearly be seen that Orange Walk Town experienced the highest increase in consumer prices with an inflation rate of 5.9 percent. Consumers in this town saw above-average increases in prices for home rental, food items, restaurant and accommodation services, laundry products, women’s clothing, and men’s and women’s haircuts. On the other hand, Punta Gorda Town experienced the lowest inflation rate of 2.2 percent, as consumers in this town saw a lower-than-average increase in prices for women’s clothing, food items, and restaurant and accommodation services.”

And Belize is not alone in sticker shock, as Perez reported: “Jamaica had an inflation rate of 9.7 percent, followed by the Dominican Republic, with prices increasing by 8.7 percent. And then, you have Nicaragua, with prices increasing by 7.7 percent. Jumping all the way to Panama, we can see that it was the country with the lowest inflation rate in the region, with prices increasing by 2.6 percent for the month of January 2022 when compared to January 2021.”

 

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