Your Bottle of Rum May Cost a Lot More in April
News Five has uncovered information of an unreported, unexpected increase in the excise tax on rum, reported to us at as much as a hundred-percent increase. It has been proposed to raise the tax from ninety to one hundred and eighty dollars. News came as late as Wednesday when the Customs Department was handed an expanded list of items to suffer increases in excise taxes, with rum among them. The bottom line is that the price of rum is expected to go up by between eighty and ninety percent if the increase goes into effect, not counting the twelve and a half percent in General Sales Tax. We are told that in Belmopan today, representatives of the industry made representation to the Finance and Economic Development Committee to re-consider implementing this increase, which would come into effect on April first. While none of those representatives would offer comment on the record, we gather that Belize will now be on par with its CARICOM neighbours. All of the larger distilleries with more famous brands that are as popular as Belize’s top brands will sell for the same price; current local prices would effectively double. We are told that Belize’s rum industry has had some protection and that exception would be made through legislation to bring in packaging, bottles and so on tax-free. But that is a small portion of the overall price and the industry feels that Belize will in fact be at a disadvantage with higher production costs, despite our usage of home-grown molasses distilled from local cane sugar. There are also concerns that staff at the major producing companies may be laid off in an effort to keep costs down. The companies are hoping to hear from Government soon. We hope to have more on this on Friday.