Dec 29, 2006

The Central Statistical Office estimates that Belize's economy grew by two
point nine percent in the first three quarters of 2006 compared to the same
period last year.This is according to a news release from the Ministry of
National Development, not including revenues from the oil industry.The
assessment for the growth is based on production information collected from
the major industries and key economic activity indicators such as tourist
arrivals and import spending. An analysis of the economy's performance at
the sector level indicates the growth was due almost to three main
sectors.These are wholesale and retail distribution, water and electricity,
and agriculture. The release points out that wholesale and retail
distribution increased by 7.6 percent because of greater consumer demands
for goods.An example given was the reported 8.4 percent increase in imports
to the commercial free zone.The 33 percent growth in the water and
electricity sector was attributed to the Chalillo dam, which is said to have
boosted electricity generation by about 45 percent.Agriculture reportedly
rebounded 8.8 percent with sugar cane and livestock making the largest
contributions.Fishing, however, reported a decline of 22.3 percent, as did
manufacturing by 1.3 percent and construction by 4.7 percent.
Revenues from papayas and bananas also increased by 15 and 5.7 percent
respectively. Hotels and restaurants also showed a decrease by 4.9 percent
and so did the government by 7.1 percent. Statistics for the first 11 months
of 2006 show that import spending rose by 11.6 percent to a record high of
1.2 billion dollars. Mineral fuels, lubricants, machinery and transport
equipment continue to be the two largest purchases, according to the
release.The only reduction in imports was in food and live animals, which
fell by 5 percent. The U-S supplied 38 percent of Belize's imports while
Central America retained 20 percent. Consumer price inflation also reached
4.3 percent, breaking the four percent mark for the first time since
1996.The rise in fuel prices resulted in a 6.9 percent transportation and
communication index rise.Noteworthy is that within five months of the
General Sales Tax consumer prices were generally backed to the pre-G-S-T
level. There were reported increased earnings from all seven major export
commodities except for the sales of marine products.

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