he recession in Belize's economy is deepening. At an SIB press conference this morning, the GDP for the 4th quarter of the year was disclosed. According to the experts, the country's GDP performance in this last quarter was down. Here's more from Statistician 2 Jacqueline Sabal, on how last year's extended drought contributed to the economic downturn:

Jacqueline Sabal - Statistician II
"If we look at what each sector contributed to the total GDP in the 4th quarter of 2019, the sector with the largest contribution was the tertiary sector, which accounted for over 60% of production. The secondary sector accounted for roughly 10.2%, while the primary sector, 8.3%, and the remaining, 14.8 % are in taxes."

"For the 4th quarter of October to December 2019, Belize produced goods and services totaling 669.9 million dollars. This represents a decrease of 19 million dollars or 2.8 percent when compared to the 4th quarter of 2018."

"Looking specifically at the 4th quarter GDP at constant prices over the last 6 years, the largest 4th quarter growth recorded was in 2017, at 3.9%, and 2015, at 3.8%. Now the 2.8% decline experienced in the 4th quarter of 2019 is the only 4th quarter decline recorded over the last 6 years. In fact, it is the only 4th quarter decrease recorded since 2011. This 2.8% decline was mainly due to decreases in both the primary and secondary sectors, as prolonged dry weather conditions triggered reduced or stalled production across several major industries during the quarter."

"Within the primary sector, agriculture, hunting and forestry contracted by 11.4% or $5.5 million, totaling 43 million dollars, while the fishing industry experienced growth of 14.7%, or 1.6 million dollars, bringing the total for the fishing industry to 12.7 million dollars."

Belize has now recorded three successive quarters of negative GDP growth; two quarters of negative growth signals a recession.

Recession But No Stagflation

And according to the Statistical Institute, the consumer prices in Belize were up by 0.2% in January 2020, when compared with January 2019. That's a marginal increase in inflation, but when measured over the last 5 years, the total of those small increases all add up to a cumulative 2.2% increase. Here's how Statistician II Melvin Perez put the increase into perspective, as well as his analysis on which necessities Belizeans had to pay more for and why:

Melvin Perez - Statistician II
"The inflation rate for the month of January 2020 stood at 0.2%. This means that overall, the cost of regularly purchased goods and services increased by 0.2%, in comparison to January of 2019."

"We notice that for the month of January, it recorded a consumer price index of 104.8, and for January 2020, it recorded a consumer price index of 105, which is the increase for the period is 0.2. This indicates that there was a change during this period, whereby the increase within the various categories was able to off-set the decreases."

"Looking at the trend line, it is clearly showing us how prices have been increasing since January 2015, up to January 2020. Now, if we were to compare January 2020 to January of 2015, an inflation rate of 2.2% will be recorded. This means that the prices for goods and services had increased by 2.2% in January 2020, when compared to January 2015."

"The housing, water, electricity, gas, and other fuels had a decrease of 1.2%. The food and non-alcoholic beverages category also had a decrease of 0.3%. And the transport category had a significant increase of 3.7%. And for the purpose of this presentation, we group the remaining goods and services into the all/other categories of goods and services, which had an increase of 0.5%. We can now see that the significant increase in the transport category was partially balanced by the decreases in the housing, water and electricity, gas and other fuels, which is why we end up with a small inflation rate of 0.2%."

"Let's look at the housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels, which had a decrease of 1.2%. This was mainly due to a decrease of 1.1% in the home rental costs, as lower prices were recorded in Corozal Town, Belize City, and San Ignacio and Santa Elena Towns. Also contributing to the decrease within this category was liquefied petroleum gas prices, which went down by 12.9%. However, these decreases were partially offset by a 5.2% increase, as the new rates apply earlier in the year 2019 continue to take effect."

According to the SIB, Orange Walk had the highest inflation rate for January 2020 at 2.6%. The Toledo District had an inflation rate of negative 2.1%, while in Corozal, the inflation rate was also negative 0.5%. In the Belize District, remained the same between January 2019 and January 2020.

Channel 7