We have been informing Belizeans of another possible increase in butane prices, although Government just approved a $7 increase in butane prices across the country last Friday. Plusnews understands that although the Government is fighting hard to keep butane prices at a reasonable place, its back may be against the wall; reportedly placed there by the three importers of Butane into the country; Zeta, Tomza, and BWel. The 3 companies get their butane supply from Guatemala and operate in Belize, both as wholesalers to the Belizean retailers and then as retailers directly to the Belizean market. By doing so, the 3 large companies have formed a sort of monopoly in the Butane market and are allegedly pressuring government to take the price up even higher.
PlusNews understands that the companies may be working together to create a shortage of butane in the country. Our sources say that butane trucks normally frequent the border between Belize and Guatemala at least 3 to 5 times per week; bringing in 12 to 14 million gallons of butane into the country per month. However, we were told that no trucks have come in this week with butane, slowly creating a scarcity that suppliers hope to capitalize at the negotiating table to get GOB to make butane even more costly to the Belizean public. Belizean retailers are complaining that they are running out of butane in their local supply and that their stock is not being replenished by the big three. In the meantime, there is fear that the silent tightening of the noose around Government’s neck may soon yield the desired results of even higher butane prices. Again, we will continue to keep you posted.