Chamber Says Cops Should Be Fined for Uncustomed Goods
The recent saga of three cops and a special constable caught on video in separate incidents of contraband at the Northern Border in Orange Walk and Corozal respectively has caught national attention. And while many have lamented the fresh black eyes for the Police Department, an alternative view has been raised by the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry. This afternoon, the Chamber wrote in a press release that while interdiction and internal disciplinary charges are a start, they do not go far enough. According to the Chamber “there is no mention that the statutorily prescribed fine of three times the value of the goods was levied against them. These officers were engaged in criminal activity and as such, we demand that they are subjected to the usual and full penalty that would be imposed against any other contrabandista. There can be no leniency when police officers are caught breaking the very laws they are sworn to uphold.” The Chamber says Belize’s economy is failing due to decades of unchecked corruption and that abuses of power must be caught and dealt with immediately. It says that “It is time to break the corruption chain and take our country back from those who would steal it, or sell it out for pennies.” Chamber President Nikita Usher told News Five in a telephone interview that when contraband goods compete against their local counterparts, we all lose.
On the Phone: Nikita Usher, President, Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry
“This affects wholeheartedly the business community, as if you are finding ways to bring in products that are uncustomed then it competes along with the very same items that we have in our marketplace in Belize. The most difficult point of all of that, though, is that remember these items are coming in without the aspect of duty, which puts the price substantially lower than what the products would be on the shelves in Belize. And so the nearest thing to the Chamber’s heart is that we cannot condone or tolerate any sort of action in that regard and hence the reason for our press release – to insist that the Government… and we must commend the authorities to have put these people on [interdiction] but at the end of the day what we have not seen is any sign of penalties or fines as is customary; as we know, it is customary to have three times the value of the goods to be fined to these individuals; we haven’t seen that in the release that was done by the authorities.”