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May 29, 1998

Private sector organizes to fight new business tax

It was first mentioned by the Prime Minister in March, tabled as a bill in the House last week and details didn’t reach the public until Wednesday. But by today the phones, faxes and e-mails were buzzing across Belize City and district towns as private sector representatives realized that the switch from a tax on profits to one on gross sales was a conceptual leap that could have far reaching effects on the economy, as well as the bottom lines of local businesses. While both the Chamber of Commerce and Business Bureau burned the midnight oil to study the implications of this bill to amend the Income Tax Act a consensus emerged that Tuesday’s scheduled meeting of a House Committee convened to study the bill left not enough time for intelligent input. Fears of a railroading were confirmed when it was announced by government that a full session of the House will be convened on Friday, June fifth, presumably to facilitate final passage of the legislation. A press release issued today by the Chamber indicates that it is requesting a thirty-day extension to review the bill as well as a private meeting with the Prime Minister on Monday. From that gathering the P.M. may find that what began as an election year giveaway to workers has become an election year headache for their employers.

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