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Jan 31, 2013

City Hall and Ministry clash on regulations

Godwin Hulse

Politics in Belize – anyone can tell you it’s not an undertaking for the faint of heart or the weak of mind. In fact it’s always complicated and very often confusing, and our next report illustrates that perfectly. The issue of drivers’ licenses being withheld by the Belize City Council for tax arrears! Government says it is illegal. The Mayor says it is legal. Both sides seem sure about their stance, and both sides are sticking to their story. And as far as a definitive resolution or conclusion – well, let’s just say that it appears that there’s been a communication blackout between both sides when it comes to this issue, and the one thing that we do know is that the practice is in effect, and has been for months. On Wednesday’s newscast Minister of Local Government Godwin Hulse was clear on the matter. He says that instructions have been sent and he expects the Council to cease and desist. Today Mayor Darrell Bradley was just as clear, and as to those instructions – well, it doesn’t appear he got the memo.

 

Godwin Hulse, Minister of Local Government (File: January 30th, 2013)

“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. 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.”

 

Darrell Bradley

Darrell Bradley, Belize City Mayor

“I feel that there is no contention and I did not see the comments of the honorable minister. And of course the Minister is our supervising minister. The City Council falls under his jurisdiction, but the City Council itself is an autonomous body. We’ve implemented this policy; it’s been in effect for three and a half months. It has been very effective. We have seen increased activity in terms of payments. We have no intentions in the future to derail from the policy and I am satisfied that the course that we are taking is one hundred percent legal and within the spirit and the letter of the law. We are requiring people to pay taxes which they owe the city in previous years. So it is not like we are charging for future taxes. If you owe one year two year three years, all we are saying is that we are not going to give any service to you unless you settle your bill because the taxes pay for the services. I have not sat down and had any discussion with the minister as it relates to the legal aspects of this. They have indicated to us—through his ministry, not he himself—that they had concerns whenever there is any public backlash with a policy. And we ourselves are very mindful of that because we want to ensure that anything we do has buy-in with the public. But of course, when you are talking about taxes and collecting taxes and mechanisms to collect taxes, nobody will be one hundred percent supportive. But there is no intention right now to move away from that policy. And we are satisfied and confident that we are following a course that is both proper and legal.”

 

As we said, both sides are sticking to their story and neither side seems able to communicate with the other on this issue. So if your drivers’ license expires anytime soon, we suggest you make sure that all your taxes are paid up before you waste a trip to the Transport Office.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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4 Responses for “City Hall and Ministry clash on regulations”

  1. belizean heat says:

    A new age is dawning
    On fewer than expected
    Business as Usual
    That’s how the headline read
    Some shaky modern saviors
    Have now been resurrected
    In all this excitement
    You may have been misled

    People want a miracle
    They say Oh Lord, can’t you see us?
    We’re tryin’ to make a livin’ down here
    And keep the children fed
    But, from little dark motel rooms
    To Six Flags over Jesus
    How are the mighty fallen
    So the Bible said

    You don’t have to pray to a little tin god
    Step out of the way for a little tin god
    You might fear the reaper, fear the rod
    But you never have to get down on your knees
    You don’t have to holler, please, please
    No, you never have to get down on your knees
    For a little tin god

  2. Storm says:

    I like your poem, belizean heat.

    This spat seems like children playing at being leaders. I think CitCo has to bow down to Belmopan.

  3. belizean heat says:

    Sorry, can’t take credit for it.
    those are Don Henley’ from the Eagles words. The song is” Little Tin God”. Just thought is so fitting for Bradley and his over inflated ego.

  4. mango creek says:

    we all need to pay our taxes. if this is an efficient way to collect taxes, then the hon. minister should amend the law for it to work. they sit there and dictate to municipal gov’t but don’t give us any help. i hear darryl crying out for help. minister hulse should amend to help than tell mayor to cease and desist. darel was elected unlike the appointment of the hon. senator minister.

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