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Jul 29, 1999

Minister of Commerce meets with private sector

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Today it was a packed house at the Belize Institute of Management as members of the private sector sat down to discuss how the Ministry of Commerce and Industry can help them in areas such as imports, exports, manufacturers, producers and services. The exercise allowed the businessmen and women to voice their concerns and cite the problems they have encountered. The workshop was called by the Ministry, the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Belize Business Bureau. According to Minister Jose Coye, it is not the first time that discussions are taking place with the private sector, however he says it is the first time that all the parties involved have come together to work towards a common goal: reducing the cost of doing business in Belize.

Jose Coye, Minister of Commerce and Industry

“But I think we have moved beyond the stage where the problem is placed at the feet of government. We are saying you help us to find the solution. And I believe the discussion is beginning to move in that direction and the government as you are well aware, and this is good news to the meeting here today, that tomorrow we are expecting to finalize the passing of the Public Utilities Commission Bill which will go a far way in addressing the cost of energy, the cost of telecommunications, the cost of water and so on in the country.”

Workshop Participant

“What I am suggesting is that we create a multisectoral interdisciplinary approach where we can look at where we are and where we want to go as a country.”

Yolanda Crombie, President, B.C.C.I.

“Some of the concerns under export are the need to expand the export base, the high cost for telecommunications, finance energy, fuel. Other costs were identified that smaller members of both organizations thought need to be dealt with by government.

Under imports we looked at the issue of contraband goods and the fact that the Bureau of Standards has made a proposal to the ministry for enforcing labeling requirements which would easily identify importer and distributor; and we support that. That is one way to reduce these goods.

Under services we looked at the need for development, for certain industries. For example, tourism. The same concerns of high costs for telecommunication, energy, etc. But also the need to strengthen services, training, human resource development on a whole need to be looked at. We looked at production. An issue that continues to surface is land access, the timeliness which it is dealt with. Again not only impacts current investors but future investors.”

While it was not expected that at the end of the workshop the participants would have come up with a memorandum of understanding, Crombie says they would have presented clear ideas on how the private sector feels and what work must be done to move forward.

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