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Feb 24, 2005

Chamber says farmers need tax relief

Story PictureThere is disturbing news coming out of Belize’s farming community as News 5 understands that more than ninety families from the Mennonite community of Shipyard in the Orange Walk District have relocated across the border to Mexico, having found greener investment pastures there. As a result, the Belize Chamber of Commerce has initiated a public relations campaign advocating a change in the current tax system to make it more friendly to farmers. This afternoon, BCCI’s membership services manager Dionne Miranda told News 5 the situation requires immediate attention.

Dionne Miranda, Membership Services Manager
?Other farmers are shutting down because it?s just not profitable to be a farmer anymore. In fact they are just breaking even. The taxation that has occurred, in terms of, there?s land tax, there?s fuel tax, they are all added on the price of the commodities and these prices, many of them are regulated by the government. And this has caused the productive sector to realize that it?s just not worth it to stay in business any longer and we need to do something about it. There are the people who are feeding us and taking care of us and actually stimulating the revenue of the country by import substitution and we need to take care of them. One of the reasons for the campaign is because we want to work out some new tax reform measure to happen for them. We?ve sent a letter to the Prime Minister and the farmers are looking forward to a productive meeting with him so we can work out some of these issues and actually come up with a framework to change the current tax position so we can actually make sure that this sector does not suffer and in the end fail, because really it?s the Belizean economy that ends up failing and the Belizean people suffer by paying higher costs.?

Janelle Chanona
?In the context of government?s tax proposals though, how realistic is it to pursue that angle??

Dionne Miranda
?One of thing is that the agro-productive sector is not looking at cancelling taxes at all. What they are asking is that we probably look at changing the taxes from the way that it?s put on, from the input level to actually at the final level where they?re actually able to compete both internationally and locally.?

As part of the PR campaign, the BCCI will hold information sessions with the general public regarding the effects of the taxes on Belizean farmers.

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