Friday, February 27, 2009

Quetzal Exchange Rate Reaches 8.15

The depreciation of the quetzal against the U.S. dollar is manifesting itself in the rising exchange rate.

A poll of banks gave the following results:

Banco de América Central, Q7.91 buy, Q8.11 sell.
Internacional, Q7.93 buy, Q8.15 sell.
Agromercantil, Q7.95 buy, Q8.12 sell.
Azteca, Q7.86 buy, Q8.06 sell.
Industrial, Q7.90 but, Q8.09 sell.
G&T Continental, Q7.84 buy, Q8.03 sell.

The black market on the street was at Q7.84 buy, Q8.00 sell.

Money changer Elio Chávez said that since January the dollar has been fluctuating but he emphasized that this sort of behavior is normal at the beginning of a year.

Businesses that rely on imports are suffering because the rising rate increases the cost of imported materials.

SAT Puts Fraud and Tax Evasion at Q5.2 Billion

Customs fraud and smuggling resulted in Q5.2 billion in unpaid taxes, according to the Superintendency of Tax Administration (SAT).

Rudy Villeda said in Congress that that figure equals 26.1% of the evasion of Value Added Tax (VAT) during the same period. Mr. Villeda said that studies are in progress concerning the collection of the VAT last year and other indicators from the Banco de Guatemala to calculate the magnitude of the tax evasion.

"We hope that evasion has decreased in the past year and that revenue collection increases. That is our goal," Villeda said.

Among the cases reported last year include the entry of contraband fuel from Mexico, when the price of oil soared in Guatemala. Several cases of customs fraud were also detected in the country's ports.

Villeda announced the implementation of security arrangements at ports with more controls on imports and exports to improve detection. "These measures will help us to maintain tax revenue, which has slowed," he said.

These new controls seek to take an inventory of containers in ports.

The Ministerio Publico confirmed that during 2008 some 238 complaints of customs fraud and smuggling were made, mostly presented by the SAT.

As a result 15 people are being sought by police, said Oxon Fredy Paredes, head of Customs Anti-Smuggling.

Fungus Causing Losses in Maize Yields

Maize is the staple diet for thousands of Guatemalans. Farmers of Alta Verapaz, Quiche, and Peten have been hit since last December [2008] by a fungus called 'slick asphalt', which blackens maize crops, reported the National Basic Grains Commission (Conagrab).

The president of Conagrab, Alberto Ical, said that crop losses of up to 75 per cent due to this fungus have been reported in Chisec, Alta Verapaz, and La Chapina, Quiche, where maize production of 30 000 and 40 000 quintals [3000 and 4000 tonnes], respectively, had been estimated. Outbreaks of the disease have also been detected in Sayaxche, Peten, with estimated crop losses of 50 per cent, Ical added.

Read the rest of the story at Seed Quest