The Statistical Institute Releases the Latest Inflation Information
October 22, 2008 Final results of the latest consumer price index survey conducted by the Statistical Institute of Belize show that consumer prices rose by 9.6% between August 2007 and August 2008. This increase is the highest that has been recorded for any twelve-month period in the last 25 years, and appears to mirror the experience in Latin America and the Caribbean.
According to a recent report from the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, in the twelve-month period ending in June of this year, consumer prices in eighteen Latin American countries rose by an average of 8.9%, mostly due to soaring food and oil prices. With the exception of El Salvador, all Central American countries recorded inflation rates between 10% and 23%. Preliminary estimates by the International Monetary Fund indicate that Jamaica and Barbados’ rates of inflation will more than double in 2008 to 20.2% and 9.0%, respectively. The rate of inflation in six of the other Caribbean countries is expected to vary between 7% and 14%.
Belize’s rate of inflation stated above was precipitated by price increases of average 17.9% and 9.1% in “food, beverage and tobacco” and “transportation and communication,” respectively. Within the “food, beverage and tobacco” group, there were substantial price increases for flour (65.5%), rice (54.9%), Red Kidney Beans (42.9%) and bread (34.6%). While the increases in fuel prices were not as pronounced, they were nonetheless considerable: diesel (44.8%), butane (20.6%) and gasoline (9.3%).
Among the other major categories of goods and services, clothing and footwear prices were virtually constant, dipping by 0.6% on average. The cost of medical care rose by 4.2%, almost matching the 4.6% increase in “rent, water, fuel and power” prices.
Based on data for the past three quarters of the year, all indications are that the average rate of inflation in Belize for 2008 will be around 7%.
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