The Public Utilities Commission’s (PUC) announcement last week that they are granting a 16.87 percent increase on electricity rates to the Belize Electricity Limited (BEL) is a bad blow to what is sometimes called our “productive sector.” This is also a bad blow for Belizean merchant businesses and hotels and restaurants and homeowners, and the whole country of Belize really.
PUC and BEL blame low rainfall for the sub-par performance of the hydroelectric facility, and the problem is compounded by production shortfalls from the Belize Sugar Industries (BSI) machinery which was supposed to generate electricity by burning bagasse. This meant Belize had to buy a greater amount of electricity from the Mexicans at Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFE), and Mexicans don’t play. In the words of a Chetumal police chief in the 1970s” “When you have me, I pay. When I have you, you pay.) CFE has us: Belize has to pay.
The increase in electricity rates will have an immediate inflationary effect, which is to say, the prices of goods and services will start going up, which means that the value of our Belize dollar, in real terms, goes down.
Life in Belize, then, becomes somewhat more difficult. At this newspaper, we have not raised the price of our street product for many years. What this means is that the business and productive sectors of Belize have taken up the slack. In our business, we use imported “raw materials” – film, plates, chemicals, ink, paper, and so on and so forth. The cost of producing our newspaper has been going up all those many years we had not raised our street price. This would not have been possible if Amandala was not supported by Belize’s business and productive sectors. We are properly grateful.