SIB Issues Statistics on Consumer Price Index for March
The Statistical Institute of Belize released the latest stats on consumer price index and external trade for the month of March. According to SIB, consumer prices were down one percent last month; so when compared to March 2014, goods and services were one percent cheaper. Food prices also saw a drop, including eggs, red kidney beans and various fresh vegetables. Dangriga is the only town that recorded overall increase in consumer prices. The largest average drop was seen in Belmopan. Transport is credited as the driving force of this overall decrease, with premium and regular gases, as well as diesel, down due to lower world market prices. The SIB reports that international airfare was also down eleven percent when compared to the same period of last year. The release also noted that the average price for LPG was down by thirty three dollars compared to a year ago.
In external trade, Belize’s imports for March increased by twelve point two million dollars compared to March 2014. Areas that saw the biggest increases include Machinery and Transport Equipment, as well as manufactured goods. In the release, the SIB says that domestic exports for March 2015 totaled almost fifty six million dollars, which represents almost ten percent growth increase compared to last March. During the month, sugar, citrus and banana exports all recorded marked growth. On the other hand, marine products, which generally perform strongly, saw over three million dollars drop in export earnings, due to decreased farm shrimp sales. There were no shipments of crude petroleum for the month of March 2015.
Inflation remains in negative for first quarter 2015
The cost of living has been incrementally decreasing since the first quarter of 2015, according to the statistical Institute of Belize.
The SIB’s latest instalment of the consumer price index, which measures the price change of various goods, services and amenities, shows that for the months of January to March the price of goods remained between one and 1.2 percent cheaper than when compared to the same period last year.
The SIB attributed much of thecprice drops to decreasing fuel prices and transportation, as well as lower rates for amenities, such as light and water. Food and vegetable prices have also been consistently low since the first quarter, with the all items section of the CPI, which measures the price change for food items, has also remained between one and 1.2 percent.
For the month of March, SIB reported that “food prices saw an average decrease of 0.8 percent, driven by lower prices for eggs, Red Kidney beans, and various fresh vegetables, including cabbage, onions, and carrots.”
Assessing inflation by municipality, western Belize has again seen the greatest price drops, With Belmopan recording decreases of 1.8 percent. Punta Gorda, which was the only municipality to record an inflation increase in February, has since seen a decrease of 0.4 percent when compared to last March. However Dangriga has now seen an increase of 0.7 percent.
SIB Report Indicates That Inflation Is Down
The Consumer Price Index for March is down reports the Statistical Institute of Belize, while imports saw a significant hike as did exports. The report says that the All-Items Consumer Price Index for the month of March 2015 was down 1 percent, from 103.6 to 102.6, in comparison to the same time last year, meaning that goods and services typically purchased by Belizeans were one percent cheaper. Food prices saw an average decrease of 0.8 percent, driven by lower prices for eggs, Red Kidney beans, and various fresh vegetables, including cabbage, onions, and carrots. The major drop is recorded in fuel prices in the “transport” category as they have been recorded to decrease about one third due to lower world market prices. Adding to that is an eleven percent decrease in international airfares. A marginal increase in home rental prices were offset by a 20.7 percent decline in electricity rates that followed tariff revisions that became effective in January 2015. The SIB also reports that the average price for LPG was down by more than one fourth or $33, from $126 twelve months ago to $93 in March 2015. Looking at the consumer prices by district, Dangriga recorded an overall increase with an inflation of 0.7 percent. Belmopan saw the largest average drop with an inflation rate of negative 1.7 percent.
While the SIB reports an over nine percent increase in exports in External trade, there was a 7.5 percent increase in imports for the month of March as compared to the same time last year. Belize’s total imports were valued at $175.1 million, a 7.5 percent or $12.2 million increase over the $162.9 million recorded in the same month of 2014. ‘Machinery and Transport Equipment’ imports grew by almost $7 million, from $28.7 million due to increased purchases of motor vehicles, electrical insulators and plastic molding machines. ‘Manufactured Goods’ were up by over $5 million from $19.9 million due to growth in imports of various construction supplies.
Purchases of both ‘Mineral Fuels and Lubricants’ and ‘Chemical Products’ declined during the month of March. Merchandise imports for the period January to March 2015 totaled $489.6 million, up 10.7 percent or $47.4 million over the same period last year. ‘Machinery and Transport Equipment’ contributed significantly to this growth.Imports of goods destined for the Commercial Free Zone and Export Processing Zones grew by $18.9 million and $12.9 million, respectively. Increased spending on cigarettes, clothing and textiles accounted for growth in the former, while higher purchases of shrimp feed, machinery for tobacco production and construction supplies were responsible for the increase in the latter.
Domestic exports for March 2015 totaled $ 55.7million, a $4.9 million or 9.5 percent increase compared to last March. The SIB reports that in March sugar, citrus and banana exports all recorded marked growth. Sugar exports were up by more than one-half over last March, rising by $6.5 million from $11.9 million. Citrus sales increased by $5.5 million from $7 million due entirely to higher orange concentrate exports. Banana exports grew by $4 million, rising from $6.5 million to $10.5 million. Marine products, which generally perform strongly, saw a $3.2 million drop in export earnings, due to decreased farm shrimp sales of over $2 million. There were no shipments of crude petroleum for the month of March 2015. Exports to the United Kingdom grew by $9.1 million, owing to the spike in sugar sales for the month, almost all of which was destined for that nation. Exports to the United States rose by $6.3 million, due almost entirely to the considerable increase in orange concentrate sales. On the other hand, exports to the Caricom region fell sharply by $6.9 million, due to a decline in sales of red kidney beans, while the drop in farm shrimp sales resulted in a $3.7 million decrease in exports to Mexico.
Consumer prices fall for fourth consecutive month
A substantial fall in the price of fuel products continues to drive down the inflation rate in the economy, which fell again from 1.4% last March to -1% this March.
“This indicated that, on average, the goods and services typically purchased by Belizean households, were 1 percent cheaper than they were one year ago,” explained a release issued by the Statistical Institute of Belize (SIB) on Wednesday.
In fact, Belize’s inflation rate has been below zero since last December. The last time the country saw sustained price dips was back in 2009.
The price of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) used for cooking, as well as the prices of gasoline and diesel were down by nearly 30% over the same period last year. For example, the average price for LPG was down by about $33, from $126 last March to $93 this March, the SIB said.
The institute added that international airfares, also within this category, were about 11 percent lower than during the same month last year.
However, in the ‘Housing, Water, Electricity, Gas and Other Fuels’ category, a marginal increase in home rental prices was offset by a 20.7 percent decline in electricity rates which came into effect this, January.
Food prices were down 0.8 percent, with price falls recorded for eggs, red kidney beans, and various fresh vegetables, including cabbage, onions, and carrots.
“As in the previous month, Dangriga was the only municipality that recorded an overall increase in consumer prices, with an inflation rate of 0.7 percent. The largest average drop in prices was seen in Belmopan, which had an inflation rate of negative 1.7 percent,” the SIB said.
The SIB also released trade statistics, which indicate that for March 2015, Belize’s total imports were valued at $175.1 million, up by 7.5% or $12.2 million over last March. The country was importing more motor vehicles, electrical insulators and plastic molding machines, as well as more construction supplies.
Meanwhile, the value of ‘Mineral Fuels and Lubricants’ and ‘Chemical Products’ imported by Belize dropped due to lower world fuel prices. The SIB said that this resulted in $3.7 million less being spent on ‘Mineral Fuels and Lubricants’ for March.
The trade gap continues to widen and Belize’s import bill almost quadrupled the value of its exports.
Overall, merchandise imports for the first quarter of the year, January to March 2015, totaled $489.6 million, up by 10.7 percent or $47.4 million over the same period last year. This contrasts sharply against the value of the country’s exports, which stood at $134.69 million for the same period.
For March 2015, Belize’s domestic exports totaled $55.7 million, a $4.9 million or 9.5 percent increase compared to last March. However, domestic exports were down for January and February 2015, resulting in an overall decline in the value of the country’s exports for the quarter from $142.16 million for January to March 2014, or a total decline of $7.47 million for the first quarter.
According to the SIB, there were no shipments of crude petroleum for the month of March 2015.