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Jun 13, 2018

A Trade License Standoff between CitCo and Apex over the Business of the Civic Center

Oscar Arnold

The Civic Center has been in use since officially opening its doors on April thirtieth.  The largest and most expensive public building in the country is being run by a private entity which was awarded a management contract by government back in March.  The issue tonight, however, is the cost that Apex Event Services will have to pay the Belize City Council in trade license fees annually.  That sum, we understand, is in the range of half a million dollars yearly, based on a calculation of the square footage of the building.  And that’s where both parties are at loggerheads.  Apex is prepared to pay for the office spaces it occupies, while CitCo says its estimate is based on the overall size in feet of the building.  The complexity arises since the sporting facility is the first of its kind commercial venture between government and a private company.  Deputy Mayor Oscar Arnold commented on the situation.

 

Oscar Arnold, Deputy Mayor, Belize City

“I think that the trade board which is separate from the city council, they are governed by their own act is just trying to make sure that it gets it the right way.”

 

Reporter

“From a standpoint of taxation, because it is a tax, you can’t run away from the fact that trade license is a tax, how can you marry these two things from the perspective that this is a public facility being managed in a private capacity?”

 

Oscar Arnold

“Luckily, the trade license laws are very clear, so the technical people are doing what they usually do when they go to assess for a trade license to be done and then now the Trade License Board will have to look at it.  Like I said, when the law was drawn up they didn’t have anything like this in mind, so this is a first.  There may be some recommendations that come out of it where the law will have to be addressed but we will have to wait and see, because remember it’s not the finance people, it’s the Trade License Board which is separate from the city council.  The city council, while we have members sitting on the board, does not control the board.”

 

Reporter

“So you have no idea as to what the trade license figure might look like?”

 

Oscar Arnold

“I haven’t gotten an update as to the figure, I understand that there is a discrepancy as to the square footage to be used for the computation of the trade license.  That is what I was told.”

 

Reporter

“But sir, at the end of the day, to run this particular facility as was a topic that the party you represent had stressed that it’s very expensive; one million dollars to run it and the figure we are being told is half a million dollars being considered.  So that would increase the public cost to this particular facility to one point five million dollars.”

 

Oscar Arnold

“You can’t look at cost if you are not looking at revenues as well in your argument, however, for the trade license cost or revenue is not taken into consideration, it’s the square footage of the premises that you house or that you will use for your business or for your trade… managed by a private group.  So now, like I said, the laws are specific for the trade license and that may be even one of the reasons that the trade license board feels that their hands are tied.  But at the end of the day they will have to do their studies, they will have to do their recommendations and obviously we have to look at it because it will affect everyone that lives in Belize City, it may even affect the prices at the gate.”

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1 Response for “A Trade License Standoff between CitCo and Apex over the Business of the Civic Center”

  1. Jason says:

    How hypocritical to be invited into the civic at he request if city council that they want to use it and at the same time trying to charge so much – I would simply let them use it then send them a bill for 500000

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