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Jan 30, 2013

Minister pulls brakes on City hall

Godwin Hulse

The current Belize City Council is no doubt one of the most active councils when it comes to infrastructural development. The twenty million dollar bond it floated last year has made it possible for many street upgrades across the city. The council plans to pay the bond with the funds that it should collect from property taxes, trade licenses and other services that it provides. But to inspire residents to pay bills, it has come up with inventive decisions such as to add a garbage collection tax to the water utility bills and to take on certain burial services. The mayor, Darrell Bradley, has also envisioned a measure in which services could be withheld from city residents if monies are owed to the council. The Minister of Labour and Local Government Godwin Hulse says that at least one of the initiatives is contrary to legislation.

 

Godwin Hulse, Minister of Labour, Local Government,

“The Ministry of Local Government, of which I am the minister, has the responsibility for oversight of local authorities—town boards and city councils—primarily to ensure that they comply to the legislation for the areas under their control. We have advised the Belize City Council that it is only the trade licensing act that gives the permission to withhold services for nonpayment of property taxes and others. The Transport Act, the vehicle licensing act, does not give such authority and therefore to withhold that, we see it as a violation. With respect to the other issue, our view is quite straightforward. In fact any services which the city council want to withhold, they must give notice and, they must in fact, create legislation to do so. We have been in discussion with them and we have written to them with these matters and we continue to be in consultation with the Mayor and all the mayors of the various town boards in Belize.”

 

Jose Sanchez

“Okay, with the first issue, you say you see it as a violation, but will they go further with those plans or it is your advice that they stop from doing that?”

 

Godwin Hulse

“Well you know our ministry had put out an advisory. And that advisory had said that the current law as it exists requires that you only pay, in the first instance, thirty dollars and some town boards have added on ten dollars for photographs. There’s been some developments—I think about four of the councils have gone ahead and signed contracts with a private provider. And that private is providing a new enhanced license with biometrics and they are proposing to charge an additional fee for that. There must be an amendment; in fact, I can tell you that cabinet has said since they sign that contract—they are autonomous and we can’t really stop them—but the legislation has to accompany the additional fee. Back to the first issue which is to discontinue the practice of withholding services, as we said, we are trusting that the town council and city council will comply with our recommendation.”

 

The City Council has maintained that it has the authority to withhold services for monies owed to the Council. 

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5 Responses for “Minister pulls brakes on City hall”

  1. poor Belize says:

    They sure have the authority. Hulse, get out of here!!!!!!!!! As soon as someone has brains to get things improved drastically, HE COMES AND SCREWS IT RIGHT UP!!

  2. orangewalkenio says:

    agree with you poor Belize…let the mayor go ahead…amend the legislation asap…but do look at the price they are setting….seems too steep for the average Belizean…but the idea of withholding certain services so that we pay our taxes seems fair and the right thing to do….

  3. Bzn_who_cares says:

    the law is the law. if there is no law to support what the mayor is doing, then he must amend the legislation to suit his actions. I got no problem with it but he must also abide by the laws just like all of us. He is not above the law.

  4. Storm says:

    The power to tax is the power to destroy. Things in the city are fast spiraling out of control in terms of reckless spending on new projects, but where will the money come from to pay for NECESSARY municipal services?

    Too many people here live in poverty or on its border — there will be hard consequences for them from squeezing more blood from the people.

  5. Simone says:

    who cares-amend the trade license act to reduce the 25% while you all are bickering with each other too.

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