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Prime Minister John Briceño and Cabinet outline priorities at retreat; Opposition says curbing inflation must be on agenda

Posted: Thursday, January 19, 2023. 11:46 am CST.

By Aaron Humes: The annual Cabinet Retreat took place over the weekend as Prime Minister John Briceño acknowledged that “challenges continue” for which the Government must be prepared in the coming fiscal year.

The P.M. cites successes in 2022 including the reduction in unemployment; increase in economic growth; reduction of the national debt; investments in agriculture, housing and tourism and rise in investor confidence, and a reduction in murders (though major crime overall has risen, mostly burglaries and robberies).

But one thing the Government has been unable to curb has been inflation, which the P.M. projects will be about 6.9 percent. As he reminded, “…a lot of what we consume is imported, but because we are pegged to the U.S. dollar and the U.S. has one of the lowest levels of inflation in the region, our inflation is not as high as in Central America.”

Prime Minister Briceño cites the recently established increase in the minimum wage to $5 an hour, some cuts in taxes, reducing the tax on fuel and addressing price gouging, the latter of which has been frustrating: “… we’re still getting a number of reports where people believe that there’s price gouging and that’s a bit, I think that’s the frustration that I don’t think we’ve managed to come up with a proper plan of action on how we can address the issue of price gouging where it exists.”

The Leader of the Opposition, Moses “Shyne” Barrow, suggests that the Ministry of Agriculture get going on initiatives to help Belizean feed themselves: “Farming is now, not the future. So I’d love to see the Minister of Agriculture get into all cities, towns and villages and get more people to feed themselves, so you don’t have to go to the store and buy these ridiculously priced items…”

He added that the Stare has a responsibility to the most vulnerable tp ensure that their quality of life is not eroded.

 

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