By Benjamin Flowers
The cost of food and other commodities has increased and Belize has spent a record amount of money on imports, new statistics published by the Statistical Institute of Belize revealed Wednesday.
The Consumer Price Index (CPI) showed a 1.3 percent increase in prices of goods when compared to the same period in 2013.
The SIB attributed a large portion of that increase to higher transport and home rental prices, particularly in San Ignacio/Santa Elena, Orange Walk Town and Dangriga.
Rising prices of home rentals pushed the ‘Housing, Water, Electricity, Gas and Other Fuels’ index up by 1.4 percent.
Water rates also increased by 6.9 percent, while electricity rates went down by 7.9 percent.
Food prices grew by less than one percent, breaking its trend of averaging 2.2 percent annual growth since 2011.
Vegetable prices continued to rise due to low availability; however, the price of rice, breakfast cereals, pasta and eggs went down.
Belize City and Punta Gorda had the lowest rate of inflation, both less than one percent. Inflation in San Ignacio/Santa Elena increased by 2.4 percent, almost twice thenational average.
Since January, Belize has imported $956 million worth of commodities; this represents an increase of 6.2 percent over this same period last year.
“Purchases of mineral fuels and lubricants, machinery and equipment, manufactured goods, food and live animals, in particular, have each increased by $12 million to $14 million in the six-month period,” said the SIB in its official report.
Except for purchases by the commercial free zones, there have been spending increases in all major categories of imports.
In June 2014, Belize imported goods with a value almost $159 million, representing a 5.7 percent increase over the same month last year. Spending on mineral fuels & lubricants and food and live animals rose by a combined $7.3 million.
The Standard International Trade Classification (SITC), which shows the difference in goods purchased compared to the previous year, highlights 12 specific commodities that the country imports.
The SITC showed a significant rise in the importation of rice, diesel fuel and motor vehicles.
Rice imports increased by $2.4 million while diesel fuels went up by $6.6 million.
The most significant imports increase was motor vehicles, which raised by $9.5 million.
The Data Request Department of the SIB confirmed that there has been a significant increase in the country’s demand for fuel.