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May 18, 2011

Taxing taxi operators; new trade license pulls brakes on cab drivers

The imposition of a new tax is normally met with opposition, especially at a time when most people are finding it hard to make ends meet. So when news spread that the City Council was about to slap a tax on taxi operators, that was met with rejection. Most wondered if the price of public transportation would go up. The air is now clearing on the new charge and when it is to be implemented. This afternoon, Belize City Mayor Zenaida Flowers Moya met with cab drivers to discuss that issue. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

A little over a hundred cab drivers from across Belize City gathered this evening at the St. John’s Credit union where they met with city officials including Mayor Zenaida Moya-Flowers and Deputy Mayor Dean Samuels to discuss the implementation of a new trade licensing fee.  Upon its introduction a little over a week ago members of various taxi associations were up in arms over the matter claiming that they were not given sufficient time to confer amongst themselves before agreeing on the proposed fee.  According to Steven Skeen, organizer of today’s sit-down, the unions are negotiating with CitCo to put the fee into effect next year.

Steven Skeen, President, Albert Street Taxi Association

“The consensus is that everybody is willing to pay whether less or the same but not paying actually this year but to start next year with the trade license.  We think that the situation was not sensitized and it was brought on suddenly and that’s where we stand at this time.  And we are very appreciative as you were here, you heard the mayor and the deputy mayor, they are willing to dialogue and I think that’s what we wanted.  We want dialogue, not something thrown on us just to take.”

Isani Cayetano

“Was the formula that was applied to come up with the thirty-three cents a day is that feasible, in your opinion, based on all the other expenses that the average cab driver has to incur?”

Steven Skeen

Steven Skeen

“Like I said it’s breaking it down to thirty-three cents a day, ten dollars a month, hundred and twenty [dollars] a year it makes no difference.  In the end it’s a hundred and twenty dollars.”

There are approximately six thousand cabdrivers currently operating in Belize City.  At a fixed rate of one hundred and twenty dollars per driver CitCo intends to collect three quarters of a million dollars in revenue annually.  Allegations were tossed around the room inferring that the collection of additional fees is for the sole purpose of fueling the upcoming political campaign.  Mayor Moya-Flowers says the motion to levy trade license fees were tabled back in 2007.

Zenaida Moya-Flowers, Belize City Mayor

Zenaida Moya-Flowers

“This is a dialogue that was from 2007 whereby, as Mr. Pollard admitted just now, he’s a president of one of the largest taxi associations, from 2007 there was a dialogue on that.  It was always pushed back; however, all businesses must operate within the ambit of the law and the Trade Licensing Act specifically states that for you to conduct business you must carry a trade license.”

But it’s a piece of legislature that seems to be controversial.  According to Skeen he was initially advised that there was no such law that applies to taxi operators.

Steven Skeen

“We are getting two sides to this law. We have seek four attorneys. We had gotten a paper from them—some were saying it’s not in the law. The law that the mayor read was different from what we got. So it’s all about going back and finding out where we’re at.”

Dennis Wright

Whatever the case may be, introducing the new tax has been met with mixed reaction.  For Dennis Wright paying the fee will be beneficial to all cabdrivers as they will then have a right to make demands of the City Council.

Dennis Wright, Taxi Driver, Caye Caulker Water Taxi Association

“Ih sound like wah good idea because usually you have a lot of people who just come out to the stand, lower their prices so they can get the job and then let the people feel like we are overcharging when there is a set price. So from all of what I hear today, I think they want to help we.”

Deputy Mayor Samuels whose responsibility the implementation and collection of the fee falls under spoke about the mechanisms to ensure that the collection of fees is timely.

Dean Samuels

Dean Samuels, Deputy Mayor, Belize City

“The mechanism that we are dealing with basically is pretty straight forward. Each taxi association/cooperative/union would send in the list of members that they have and we would keep it in their system and when they come in to pay we will know how many members which different taxi association has.”

Another meeting to fine tune the details of how and when the new trade licensing fee will come into effect is scheduled for early next week. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

Taxi operators are not convinced that it is legal to impose the new tax.

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11 Responses for “Taxing taxi operators; new trade license pulls brakes on cab drivers”

  1. Elgin Martinez says:

    I guess Zenaida Madoff is trying to accumulate more money for her next ponze scheme.

  2. Islandbwai says:

    Why is it that government always trying to find ways as to how to rob the poor. Barrow get your things strat my bwai, you show no respect to those who are strugling for a livein. These taxi drivers have family that they need to feed. How much money has Zenieda stolen and the UDP has not done nothing to her. Mein tired of this government, all they do is fight amongs themselves, look after their families and no the people, and steal steal steal. Should be ashame of your government.

  3. Mr,Minister says:

    all Zenida want is to make sure she gets rich before city council elections I do hope that after she loses the new PUP council investigate where she obtained all her wealth and fu sure its from us the poor people it must be conficated

  4. javier solis says:

    I dont trust any scheme Moya tries to come up with that deals with money. She is not a trustworthy person. Anyway, by next year she should be gone.

  5. belizeanpride says:

    as usual gov. dept. being so greedy and greed for money no taking consideration for the struggling belizean people. i’m not a taxi driver but this really sucks and these people bring down their price to help the needed and to help themselves with this bald head squizzing us daily with high cost of living and more taxes. to hell with them taxes say no more. the minute they agree gov. will see that we people take it as it comes we jump and bawl but later forget about it and keep going…

  6. Earl Grey says:

    IF THE RIGHT PEOPLE…….. PAID THE RIGHT TAXES………. THE POOR COULD GET A BREAK!!!

  7. Shadow says:

    give the poor people a chance to make a living

  8. Ricky Malthus says:

    This tax stinks to the high heavens; no new taxes. We should be eliminating taxes. The mayor must not be allowed to get her hands on any money. Taxi operators,don’t be fooled by anyone. You are already paying too much taxes through the taxes on fuel. If Moya wants more ,let her ask Barrow for increased subvention from the General Funds and make it an obligatory expenditure. Seems to me she wants to get her dirty ,sticky fingers on free money.

  9. Jason says:

    Why should every other person who conduct business pay trade license but the taximen don’t. Please, taximen need to pay their dues like everybody else. This got nothing to do with the mayor.

  10. Angela says:

    So everybody must pay trade lisence but those in the taxi business. That no sound right. I believe what is good for the gander is good for the goose. let those in the taxi business pay their trade lisence like every body else.

  11. Jason Jones says:

    ………….Anyway, my view is that taxis should PAY trade license like any peddler or vendor who also have to pay trade license and use pulbic street to conduct their business. Why should they be different than the rest?

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