by Kory Leslie (Freelance Writer)
BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Jan. 26, 2023
The most recent report released by the Statistical Institute of Belize (SIB) is indicating an overall 6.7% rise in the prices of goods and services across various categories when compared to December 2021, as well as a rise in total imports and a decrease in exports.
In regard to the rise in prices, the SIB has reported that food and non-alcoholic beverages account for more than one-half of the total inflation rate and that there was an overall price increase of 13.8% in this category of goods in December.
Some of the higher price increases noted in the report include hikes in the prices of common household items such as eggs, which increased from $0.28 to $0.37 (34.2%) per unit; coconut milk, which increased from $3.23 to $4.16 (29.1%) per 400 ml; vegetable oil, which increased from $5.75 to $7.35 (27.7%) per liter; flour, which increased from $1.24 to $1.44 (15.6%) per pound, and rice, which increased from $1.46 to $1.66 (13.3%) per pound. Other cost increases reported included a 12.5% rise in prices in the Transport category, a 7.7% rise in prices of Restaurants and Accommodation Services; and a 3.7% increase in the prices of Furnishings, Household Equipment, and Routine Household Maintenance, while there was a 3.2% price increase in the Information and Communication category and a 0.2% increase in the price of Housing, Water, Electricity, Gas and Other Fuels.
Additional statistics indicated a 10.3% increase in imports and a whopping 29% decrease in domestic exports. Specifically, increases were observed in the purchases of imported items at the Commercial Free Zones, which increased by $16.1 million; the purchases of Food and Live Animals, which increased by $4.6 million, and the purchase of Machinery and Transport Equipment, which increased by $1.8 million. There was also a $1.3 million increase in the purchases of Fuels and Lubricants and a $1.2 million increase in the purchase of Beverages and Tobacco.
Unfortunately, almost all the country’s major exports saw a decrease at the end of last year. Earnings from crude petroleum were down by $7.3 million due to a much smaller quantity of this commodity being shipped in December 2022 when compared to December 2021. Banana exports fell by about $3.3 million, while revenues from marine products were $3 million lower due to reduced exports of lobster tails. Sugar revenue also declined marginally by $0.3 million. Among the country’s other exports, revenues from pepper sauces were down by $0.3 million and earnings from red kidney beans were down $0.2 million.