General — 21 November 2014 — by Adele Ramos
Belizean consumers demand further pump price adjustments

BELIZE CITY–Since October, pump prices have fallen by an average of 72 cents on the gallon, but some consumers say that’s not far enough, given the extent to which fuel prices have plummeted on the world market.

Pump prices peaked in July this year when a gallon of regular gasoline in Belize City was tagged at $11.84 and premium gasoline was tagged at $12.17. Today’s prices reflect a reduction of a mere 10%, contrasting sharply with the 30% decline in world market prices.

The last price adjustment was effected last Friday morning, when the Government-controlled prices were reduced to $10.92 for a gallon of premium gasoline.

Today, we posed the question to Minister of Finance, Prime Minister Dean Barrow, who said that further reductions should come by year-end.

“Like the law of gravity, the prices must come down,” Barrow told us.

“If it is that it is taking a little bit of while, I can think of several reasons for that,” he added.

According to Barrow, fuel orders are taken by Venezuela, which supplies fuel to Belize under the PetroCaribe accord, well in advance, and the price Belize pays is the price quoted when it orders fuel from Venezuela.

He said that the “considerable lag between decline in the world market prices and the decline in price to consumers here in Belize” is due to the preorder system.

Currently, 54% of the monies consumers pay at the pumps covers the cost of getting the fuel here, while 13% goes to the private sector and 33% to the Government of Belize.

We asked Barrow whether his government would consider tax adjustments to effect further reductions in the pump prices, considering the approach of the holiday season, and he said that it won’t, since the impending price reductions will mean that Government will receive less tax revenue and the teachers and public officers are expecting another tranche of salary adjustments next year.

Barrow said that he expects that within the next month or so, there will be a “full pass through” of price reductions on the world market, which will mean that the consumer will pay far less and the government’s collection will be far less, he said.

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