Posted: Friday, June 3, 2022. 11:45 am CST.
By Aaron Humes: Minister of Agriculture, Food Security, and Enterprise Jose Abelardo Mai has detailed the careful consideration given to recent efforts by bakers to have the controlled price of 16-ounce sliced bread increased by as much as 75 cents.
But rather than increase prices, a direct subsidy program will be introduced to compensate bakers for the money they will lose as a result, a first for Belize, Mai said: “In difficult times, we have found a solution to the problem.”
Bakers will receive direct payments from the Government, with such payments equitably distributed in line with their output at 25 cents per loaf depending on the level of flour purchase; the conversion rate is 120 loaves per sack of flour according to 2021 data. The program begins right away. However, there will not be any waiver on duties attached to any ingredient used by bakers.
Mai announced in the House of Representatives that the Cabinet has considered additional proposals for price increases by 50 cents and then 25 cents, with a promise to monitor prices for the ingredients used to make it.
A small increase of even 25 cents may seem trivial, the Minister said, but it adds up for a typical family to an additional $4.50 per week, despite increases in the costs of wheat, yeast, and other ingredients – which Mai compared with 2008 when an increase in flour costs alone lifted prices to their current level of $1.50 wholesale and $1.75 retail.
Rather, the Government is willing to incur additional expenses in order to ensure that the cost of living – and eating – does not rise and affects families.
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