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Nov 22, 2016

Trade License Reform May Be Ready for Christmas

Darrell Bradley

What do Belizean businesses want most for Christmas, other than good sales? That would be an ease with taxes. In these hard times, every penny counts for businesses of all kinds. Belize City Mayor Darrell Bradley has been a consistent proponent of trade license and ease of business reform, and today he had an update on the progress of trade license reform – which could be coming for Christmas.

 

Darrell Bradley, Belize City Mayor

“It is going very positively but we are not where we want to be yet. We are doing consultations. We had two very successful consultations about it. Many members of the business community are on board. We are working very closely with the Office of the Prime Minister, Ambassador Gutierrez, the Ministry of Local Government, including the C.E.O. Kerry Belisle.  We are working very intimately and in partnership with the Chamber of Commerce so that we have regular meetings in terms of the task force. We have come up with the methodology of payments in terms of the schedule of payments so that it is a good move. The difficulty that we have is that the trade license legislation is one legislation for the entire country, so that all the municipalities have to be on board and we have to be at the same spot. I think some municipalities, like Belmopan, are very aggressive and progressive in terms of moving forward. Others see it as something where there would want to be a slower pace in terms of the reform, but in Belize City we are very prepared to put it into effect. We have made certain commitments to the Chamber of Commerce and we are prepared to stand by our commitments. I think it will represent a loss in relation to a dollar value to the municipality, but I think what we earn in goodwill in terms of the partnership with the private sector and the volume of businesses we want to attract back to Belize City, I think in the end the community will benefit tremendously. I do believe that the private sector, on a whole, generally is over taxed and I think that there needs to be more simplicity in the tax frame work. I am a small businessman myself and there is at least six regulatory agencies that I have to interface with on a monthly basis and that is overbearing for a small business. So, what we are saying is, in line with the CARILED philosophy and the ease of doing business, we have to look at reform in a comprehensive way. And the trade license reform is a powerful quick win that we will get that will signal to the private sector, even above the loss in revenue, that the municipality is very facilitative of economic development; that we want to be an enable of economic development, that we want to be pro-growth and pro-jobs in Belize City. So, you should see an announcement in relation to the implementation phase, I would say not before the ending of November but definitely by the middle of December.”

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