BELIZE CITY, Wed. Dec. 5, 2018– It may not have been a significant dip in the high fuel prices Belizeans are accustomed to paying at the pump, but the slight drop in fuel prices was noticed, and so reporters asked Financial Secretary, Joseph Waight, about it today.
Waight assured the media that it was not a gesture of goodwill for the holiday season from the government of Prime Minister Dean Barrow. He said the small ease at the fuel pump was due to the fluctuations on the international oil market.
“International prices as always, up and down. There has been no change in the tax for months and months and months, so we take what we take,” Waight said in response to a question about the adjustment in fuel prices.
When Waight was asked if this is a Christmas gift for consumers, he replied: “Nothing to do with Christmas and nothing to do with the New Year.”
Waight was asked to explain why, when the price of fuel is very low on the world market, we in Belize are still paying a high premium for it.
“It comes down to a question of the volumes that we import,” Waight said. “Remember we import less than .1% of the world market supply. We have to get smaller ships, high cost of freight. There is higher cost for storage and so, while our prices generally move up and down in sync with international prices it is not all…what you see going on in the States and Texas is not what we get in Belize. The volume determines the difference. We’re a very, very small consumer. We basically are price takers. The price is out there. We take the price. We have no control over the price,” he explained.
Against the backdrop of a memorandum from Financial Secretary Waight to government CEO’s and heads of department, in which Waight had expressed that government finances were not in the best of shape, Waight told the media that the economy has experienced real growth.
Waight was asked how he would rate the economy today. The interview took place on the verandah of the Supreme Court building on Treasury Lane, and he glanced in the direction of Haulover Creek, before replying, “I was hoping I could point to boats moving today, but they move during the week. You saw the congestion at the airport; it is a good and bad, the whole streamline. But the thing is the flights are coming in, the tourism is more in the economy, and the agriculture sector isn’t too bad either—so is growth, positive growth, real growth,” Waight said.