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Sep 17, 2013

Chamber of Commerce writes Minister Hulse to intervene and stop increase in trade license fees

Kim Aikman

Last December, the private sector experienced a drastic hike in trade license fees. Some businesses complained that their fees went up by three hundred percent than what they previously paid the City Council. There was an uproar from businesses and the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry asked the Minster of Local Government, Godwin Hulse to step in. Well it’s almost a year since then and a final decision has still not been agreed to with respect to how the trade license fees are determined. But last week, a notice was published in the newspapers that the assessments of businesses for their trade license fees for the 2014 fiscal year was to begin. The BCCI has again written to Minister Hulse asking that the trade license fees be frozen at least through 2014. And according to C.E.O. of the BCCI, Kim Aikman, licenses should be a flat rate.

 

Kim Aikman, C.E.O., Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry

“To us, the term license denotes a flat fee. I have a driver’s license and it doesn’t matter what car I drive. I can drive a Range Rover or a little Honda and it doesn’t matter; I pay one flat fee. And we believe that this is how we need to start looking at the trade license.  As you know in December when our members got their trade license assessments some of them was as much as three hundred percent higher than they were the previous year and we had committed to try to find a method that is equitable; that’s predictable for our members. We had some meetings with the minister, Minister Hulse, so that this…umm, whatever standards we use, we use throughout the country so that businesses would know in advance what their trade license fees are. We had two meetings; we had some discussions on how we can make this license fair, equitable, predictable. We noted that the process has begun and we are still not near completion of a proposal to make it equitable. So we wrote to the minister to ask him to please ensure that there are no increases in the trade license since some of our businesses are still reeling from the impact of the hike that we experienced in 2012.  We are asking the minister to ensure that there are no increases. Right now the legislation says that the trade license is assessed at twenty-five percent of their rental value, but who assesses the rental value and how is it assessed. So it is a very subjective method. Right now we are trying to look at something that is very objective that businesses can predict and that is the proposal that we are working on to put forward to the ministry, however, because of lack of some information, we are not near completion to put forward our proposal. So we are just asking him since we noticed in the newspapers the previous week that they had sent out the notice for the fourth schedule and that notice is telling people that we are coming around to assess your premises; the same way that it was done in the past. So we are putting him on notice to please hold off on that.”

 

Since the new increases in trade license fees, some businesses have unfortunately had to close their doors.

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