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Nov 26, 2018

Export Processing Zone Act to be Repealed, Replaced

Tracey Taegar-Panton

On Friday, the Government introduced a bill to repeal and replace the Export Processing Zone Act. The revised act seeks to facilitate investment, production of value-adding enterprises and ensure compliance with regulations and standards. The existing EPZ Act was found to be in violation of the Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures of the World Trade Organization. As a member of the World Trade Organization Belize must comply and that is why the Designated Processing Areas Bill was tabled.

 

Tracey Taegar-Panton, Minister of Investment, Trade and Commerce

“The repealing of the existing EPZ Act and replacing it with the designated Processing Areas Bill of 2018 has become necessary to ensure Belize’s compliance on subsidy travailing measures. Removing the Export Contingency Subsidy and replaced it with more relevant filters that use standards as a recognized benchmark for industry development as well as to meet our obligations to the European Union as it relates to the EU’s code of conduct on harmful tax practices that seek to maximize efforts to prevent tax fraud and tax evasion.”

 

Dean Barrow

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“We are trying to make sure that, as the Minister explained, the new regime will while getting us away from the threat of sanctions if we simply continued with the EPZ will not prejudice our current EPZ entities and so we are filling around with our tax law to try to offer them the same kind of taxation relief. The minster wasn’t here on Tuesday, we discussed it in Cabinet, her technical person came explained all this to us and we then left him to get together with the Sol Gen to draft the companion amendments to the Income Tax Legislation that would compliment and support this. We never had a chance in Cabinet to see that bill but we nevertheless had it listed. When the Financial Secretary saw it he almost had a heart attack. He felt that the drafting instructions resulted unwittingly in two large a concession, well more than a concession; it was going way beyond the situation that currently exists tax wise that we wanted to restore. It has in fact providing for some serious extension. So I didn’t get a chance to talk to Minster, I hurriedly had to tell the Clerk to please withdraw that bill but I want to assure Minster, members and the EPZ public that when this comes back for debate and  second and third readings, at the same time there will be the Companion Tax piece that we can hopefully pass all at once to help to give them the additional comfort that they need.”

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