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Jul 12, 2016

B.C.C.I. Cautions G.O.B. against Raising Taxes

According to President Nikita Usher, though, the arbitration award is a done deal so the real commentary must be on the way forward, and how Government will address very critical economic issues now facing the nation.

 

On the Phone: Nikita Usher, President, Chamber of Commerce

“The arbitration award is already there; it’s in front of us, it is history. There is not much that can be done about it. But what is most important is to see how do we move forward an environment to try and mitigate that issue that is in front of us. And one of the most problematic areas that we are seeing right now is the debt of the entire country of Belize and the arbitration award has just added on to that debt and now we must just move forward with that. And as you can see from our press release we are saying to the government of Belize that for us to see an improvement, the government of Belize must commit to certain things; one of which is no new taxes must come forth. In other words, we have an award to pay, we have a ballooning debt in front of us, a growing national debt and we have challenges in front of us. We have the productive sector that is showing some downturns at the moment; we have citrus that is plagued with a disease and a declining production, we have shrimp that has not been producing over the last year and we are hopeful that it would be producing by the end of the year, but that remains questionable. We have bananas and the Meridian issue that just came up. So all these productive sectors are not put in a strain and exports have now declined. So how now do you mitigate a national debt and move forward and that is the reason we stress the point that we don’t want any new taxes. The Chamber of course shares the view that the government can spend more time broadening the tax base and looking for areas where you have evasion of taxation, as opposed to increasing taxation on those who are already paying. If your government does not become efficient then they have to find ways of bridging the gap and the only way of bridging the gap most times is to increase the taxes. Everybody pays taxes, whether we want to think so or not; it is not just business people. Every time there is an increase it in the fuel price, there’s actually an increase in taxes so you are paying it at the fuel pumps. The businesses who have to do distribution are actually increasing their costs and they are passing it on.  So all of us at the end of the day pay that price so we are asking for the government to start to look at efficient ways of how to manage the government itself. And the third one of course is to make an enabling environment to try to introduce new businesses into the house, into the global market; trying to find ways of how to make Belizean products exportable, become more competitive. And for us that is where we stand as a Chamber.”

 

According to the settlement, the first payment of almost two hundred million dollars is due this Wednesday.

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