The Statistical Institute of Belize today called reporters to a press conference in Belize City to release the monthly Consumer Price Index (CPI) which measures the cost of living in the Jewel, as well as to report on Belize’s trade balance and performance in the year gone.
As most can tell you, prices have gone up, but not by as much as one might think. With more here is SIB Director General Glenn Avilez.
“Between December 2012 and December 2013, the CPI increased by 1.6%, simply saying that an item on average cost in 2012, $1.00 and in 2013 it will cost $1.01 to $1.06”.
Going inside the numbers, Belizeans are paying, on average, about 1.5% more for food staples like ground beef, red kidney beans, eggs, milk, and vegetables.
We are paying less for alcohol and cigarettes, clothing and footwear, house furnishings, recreation, but about the same for housing and utilities, communication and transport.
Other sectors have gone down. Gas and fuel has stabilized somewhat and butane is actually down on average from year to year. National inflation is at 0.5% measured on average for the year, with Belmopan having the highest average inflation at 1.4% while there was no change in Dangriga.
According to the statistical report, Belize is performing well in terms of inflation along with its Caribbean and Central American counterparts, recording lower numbers similar to Canada and the United States which have far more consumers and buy more than we do.
In terms of Belize’s international trade balance, Belize is also buying a lot more, while selling a lot less. Here is Avilez’s summary.
Mr. Glenn Avilez: “Imports were up by 8%, exports were down by 8%. So, our percents anre widely trade backs”.
Belize in 2013 bought over $1.8 billion in goods and services, mostly from the U.S., E.U., CARICOM and Mexico in that order, while last year we sold over $627 million, mostly to those export partners as well as to the People’s Republic of China. That is the widest the gap has ever been, because we are buying more machinery and transport equipment – $51 million, and manufactured goods – $55 million, and selling less petroleum and citrus and bananas, a total loss of over $90 million, which has caused the EU to bump the U.S. as Belize’s No. 1 export partner.
Sugar has flat-lined at $107 million despite more cane on the ground, and fishing/shrimp production and animal feed are picking up, but not enough to fill the gap.
But how does the SIB explain its statistics on the ground? Mr. Avilez says that comes with the job.
Mr. Glenn Avilez: “Jules, it is what I call “occupational hazard”. Once you are in statistics, you will be criticized. My exhortation to my staff is “let’s do our best”. We have the CPI that we do monthly on Price Collection and we require that the staff are truthful, they do complete collection because anything that looks strange could be questioned and if
we can question it, then it is very likely that it can be questioned by persons outside our organization. So, it is very important for us as an institute…all things aside. I think our professional integrity is at stake’.
This is the first in a series of regular press conferences and informational briefings organized by the Institute, which was separated from Government in 2007, in an effort to become more media-friendly and gain greater exposure. It will meet regularly with the press and release key statistics on the last Wednesday of every month.