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Jul 20, 2018

No New Concession for Auto Rental Business Says Tracy Taegar-Panton

The auto rental business qualifies for fiscal incentives; that’s according to the Ministry of Trade and Economic Development. An article in another sector of the media reported today that the Belize Estate and Company Limited had been granted a concession to import seventy-five new vehicles. The ministry says that no new fiscal incentive was granted to the auto rental arm of the company but that a previous concession in 2014 was amended this year changing the types of vehicles totaling seventy-five. The minister, Tracey Taegar Panton also says that four other companies have received similar concessions. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

A fiscal incentive issued to Belize Estate Company Limited by the Ministry of Economic Development to establish an auto rental business as a subsidiary, is being called to question.  This follows a headline article published in the weekend edition of the Amandala newspaper in which the author writes that the Government of Belize has granted a major concession to BEC to import seventy-five new vehicles.  In the same news item, the reporter questions the need for a statutory instrument to be signed by Minister of State Tracy Panton for the purchase of the vehicles since they were not being acquired by or for the government.  This afternoon, Panton explained the fiscal incentive and its purpose to encourage investment.

 

Tracy Panton, Minister of State, Economic Development

Tracy Panton

“That statutory instrument was initially signed in 2014 for BEC, but for their car rental operations.  So it is a tourism concession which was granted to them.  In 2018, they needed to amend the concession because the concession requests are very specific, particularly when it relates to vehicles and so they wanted to reduce the number of SUVs that they had requested initially in 2014 and increase the number of pickup trucks.  And so there was an amendment in 2018 that allowed that to happen.  I think it’s important to know that it is not only BEC that has been granted incentives for vehicle rental agencies.”

 

According to Panton, BEC which is the local agent for Alamo and National Car Rental, is one of five auto rental companies that have been granted such concession in further supporting the tourism sector.  This special privilege is awarded upon fulfillment of an application procedure.

 

Tracy Panton

“It’s very normal.  As you know, the tourism industry is the high priority sector for the Government of Belize, along with agriculture.  Those are the two top priorities and so it is almost, once the request can be justified, those incentives are normally provided by the Government of Belize.”

 

The Statutory Instrument, Number Thirty-seven of 2014, expressly states the reason for the incentive being granted.  Paragraph two goes on to say that BEC, quote, shall create a franchise of the Alamo and National Car Rental brands to cater to the transportation needs of executive and leisure class tourists and locals, unquote.  That SI, as well as the clause in reference, satisfies the question asked by the reporter.  The headline and the article, says Panton, is therefore erroneous.

 

Tracy Panton

“I think it’s pure mischief.  I am really very surprised at Rowland Parks who has direct access to me, I think most of our media partners can say they called me and they get an answer.  By his own admission, he never attempted to get clarification from the ministry or from BELTRAIDE or from myself.  He went to BEC, and where he needed to get the clarification from was the Government of Belize, and so I’m pretty annoyed because Mr. Parks has reached out to me for many other reasons.  I think that it’s important to be responsible in our reporting.”

 

The Government of Belize has since provided an outline of the Statutory Instruments which shows that in 2014, BEC requested a concession for twelve pickups, fifty-six sport utility vehicles and seven passenger vans.  In 2018, the amendment to the SI reflects that BEC then requested twenty pickups, forty-eight SUVs and seven passenger vans, which amounts to the seventy five vehicles it was initially given the concession for four years earlier.

Isani Cayetano reporting for News Five.

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