The Central Statistical Office estimates that Belize’s economy grew by 2.9 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 private or 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 for 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.