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Government belatedly confirms regular fuel price increase

Posted: Thursday, March 24, 2022. 2:47 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: Hours after it went into effect, the Ministry of Finance confirmed that the regulated pump price of regular gasoline now sits at $13.50 per gallon, an increase of 66 cents.

The Ministry claims the increase is “entirely attributable to the acquisition costs of the product” and that the Government reduced all levies on regular fuel by 29 cents in order to keep the prices somewhat lower than expected.

Previously, in the case of diesel fuel, the Government reduced the tax component by $1.17 in order to keep the price of that product at $13.41. This tax reduction alone represents, on an annualized basis, a loss of $17 million of anticipated budget revenues.

The Ministry reminds that per Prime Minister John Briceño, “the Government is in the process of establishing a Fuel Stabilization Mechanism which is expected to provide some level of price predictability while protecting fiscal targets in the national budget.”

Additionally, it said, it “is also actively engaged with various stakeholders in the pursuit of certain burden-sharing initiatives that can contribute to price stabilization, and eventually, price reduction. In this regard, the Government has been emphatic with Belize’s principal fuel importer, Puma Belize [Limited], about the imperative of competitive acquisition and pricing.”

And it reminds that the current increases are a direct consequence of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and, left unsaid, the sanctions the Western world has levied on Russia that have prevented it from finding markets for its petroleum and other products.

“Though future prices are impossible to predict, the Government of Belize continues to examine all viable policy options for minimizing the fuel price shock, balancing as best as possible between the twin demands of affordable pump prices and budgetary steadiness,” the statement concludes.

 

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