Greedy Choke Puppy? The Effect of Higher Taxes and Relation to Contrabanding
Despite the Government’s belt-tightening measures, if the allegations being made from within the G.S.T. Department have substance, do they not go against the stated intentions of limiting the pain of the tax-paying public? Speaking earlier this week, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s president, Nikita Usher, was willing to give the Government the benefit of the doubt on that one. But he points out that higher taxes in any capacity hurts official business and makes illegal activities like contraband more profitable and attractive to those who feel they have few options.
“Are you surprised that Government would deal with taxpayers this way – it appears that this is something calculated and determined to impact revenues from the very same people who would willingly pay their taxes because they know it is the right thing to do?”
On the Phone: Nikita Usher, President, Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry
“You do know that we are in an austerity period; we do know that the Budget is calling for belt-tightening, and remember belt-tightening happens at all sides: one is to cut your expenditures but two is also to improve your revenues. And of course the Government is trying its best, and I would suppose that’s one way of sending the message to all tax departments to try and ensure that they collect as much tax as possible; but at the Chamber we are saying we are not condoning, of course, or not supporting the method being used to tax the very same people who are paying the taxes. We are asking – if they are owing, they have to pay; but if there those who are not paying, we need to try and find that loophole and assessments need to be levied against those supposed taxpayers who are not paying, one, in full, or two, not at all. One has to ask the question: what makes contraband lucrative? And what is most important to note is our very taxes that we place on our goods coming into Belize, actually makes contraband more lucrative than if we were to lower the taxes. So I say this to mean this: if you increase taxes more and more, then it means that the prices of our goods on our shelves would increase; that would mean that it then makes the neighboring countries’ goods, if you can bring it across the border without paying duties, by far more affordable, more reasonable, cheaper for the consuming public. We therefore need to examine our methodology of taxation.”