Saturday, April 12, 2008

Guatemalan Government Intervenes to Ease Rising Prices

April 11, 2008

President Álvaro Colom decided to go ahead with an economic package to help ease the effects of rising prices. The measures will include subsidies and capping certain prices. Details will be announced on national radio and television Sunday night. There are 32 specific measures in the plan with a couple of them quite drastic. Vice-President Rafael Espada said that everything is on the table, details are still being worked out, and some decisions are still to be made.

None of the officials were willing discuss exactly which products would be affected but government sources say that subsidies on diesel and propane are being discussed as well as price caps on basic products such as sugar, beans, maíz, rice, and flour. Also among the measures are special consideration for the elderly and other at-risk members of society and increased taxes on cellular phone service and utilities to encourage conservation.

A presidential spokesman said that Colom will speak on television and radio because he wants to speak directly to the people about the current economic crisis, the external causes of the problem, and that these measures are in keeping with the gravity of the crisis that is expected.

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