BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Aug. 22, 2019– The Government of Belize passed a piece of legislation last Friday in the House of Representatives, the National Liquefied Petroleum Gas Project Bill, to create a public/private enterprise — the National Gas Company — to take over the liquid petroleum gas (butane) industry, which is presently controlled by Mexican companies.
In his introduction to the new bill, Prime Minister Dean Barrow said that the creation of the National Gas Company would, among other things, lower the price of butane for consumers.
Notwithstanding the Prime Minister’s optimism regarding the new piece of legislation, the new entity that the bill will create has come under sustained criticism not only from members of the Opposition, the People’s United Party, but also this week from the Belize Business Bureau, which issued a press release in which it characterized the idea of a monopoly National Gas Company as “the worst idea of the decade.”
The Belize Business Bureau (BBB) is of the view that this new company will create more unemployment and will result in a monopoly tax on the poor and will ultimately be inefficient. BBB said that instead of fixing the butane problem, the government is making it worse.
“…the minister has direct control of who gets a license. This policy is a seed bed for corrupt practices,” the BBB said.
“The government has decided to table a bill for the creation of a new monopoly which is regressive; places a monopoly tax on the poor; increases inequality; creates job losses and further unemployment; promotes social insecurity and ends up being inefficient and wasteful,” the BBB said.
“How will government regulate itself and its partners to ensure the Belizean consumer gets what they are paying for? What was needed was a competition law to allow for more distributors, stronger standards and regulatory penalties for price gouging. Open demand and supply allows the consumer to vote by pocketbook for the best value,” the BBB further stated in its release.