No Alternative Facts: Courtenay Says G.O.B. Raised Taxes
Close to eighty million dollars has been claimed by the Government in additional tax measures under the new Budget, affecting everything from electricity to fuel to the environment. And while the Prime Minister has contended that things could have been – and indeed may still get – much worse, Senator Eamon Courtenay says they can’t get worse than they are already for the poorest of the electorate. He points out that in couching the language of the tax measures in less harsh phrasing, Government seeks to soften a blow that is nonetheless coming hard. Nevertheless, no amount of “alternative facts,” Courtenay says, will change what they have really done – increase taxes.
Eamon Courtenay, P.U.P. Senator
“And yet what we have, Mr. President – in presenting the Prime Minister’s budget, he didn’t want to be frank and open with the people; he didn’t have the courage to tell the people that he was going to be imposing new taxes; no, he used alternative facts. Hear him: According to them, the Cabinet proposes limited measures. Limited measures? Limited measures? What is the truth, Mr. President? They will, quote, adjust the excise levy – not true, a tax increase of twenty-seven million dollars. According to him, they will, quote, amend the departure fee. Not true, Mr. President! That’s another tax increase of ten point five million dollars. According to him, they will – listen to this – bump the environmental charge; not true! That is a tax increase of fourteen point four million dollars on the Belizean people. And listen to this one: they will shift the social fee – shift? Another tax increase of fourteen point four million dollars. And you would have thought, people will get a relief when they say, we will lower the tax threshold for electricity consumption – not at all! That is an additional six point six million dollars in taxes, Mr. President. And finally, this cute one: they will amend by fifty basis points the stamp duty on foreign exchange permits – not true! A tax increase of seven point seven million dollars. That amounts for a total increase in taxes of seventy-seven million, approximately two point two percent of GDP. We should ‘man up’ and say you are increasing taxes. Don’t use fancy words and euphemisms when you are ramming a bukut on the Belizean people. Time to man up! That is what we are demanding of this Government.”