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Nov 6, 2013

City Council and Chamber of Commerce hold mixer to strengthen relations

Darrell Bradley

Relations between the Belize City Council and the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry have not always been cozy. But an initiative by Belize City Mayor Darrell Bradley will hopefully change that. This morning a business mixer was held at the Radisson to bring the private sector and public sector around the table.  In the past, tensions surfaced when there was an exorbitant hike in taxes for local businesses within the city. It forced some businesses to close down and others to relocate to Ladyville. But the City Council and B.C.C.I. believes that this new move is going to allow for businesses to take full advantage of the capacity of the Old Capital as the center of commerce. Both Belize City Mayor, Darrell Bradley and President of the B.C.C.I., Kay Menzies, spoke of the implementation of a task force to address the issue of taxes. According to Bradley, a moratorium has been issued on trade license taxes for at least one year.

 

Darrell Bradley, Belize City Mayor

“There is a very close relationship between the municipality and the private sector so that you would be very supportive of each other’s initiatives and ideas. One of the things that we have been with the Chamber of Commerce is working very closely to look at the whole trade license regime. We have put together a task force with members from the City Council and members from the Chamber of Commerce and they are putting together a concept paper and a document that will make recommendations as it relates to how we can revamp the trade license regime to make it very more supportive of business. So the idea of the business mixer was to say can we move our conversation not only to look at issues of taxes, which is very important to the private sector and to over growth in Belize. You have to have a city that is very inexpensive in cost of doing business.”

 

Kay Menzies, President, Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Kay Menzies

“The current structure for the tax, the trade license and the property tax just doesn’t work because it is based on a very arbitrary calculation. And it means that, if I were City Council, I could walk into your place and say alright you will pay this amount and there is no justification beyond the basic. So what we are trying to find between us is—recognizing that the city needs its revenue if we want it to be cleaned and properly tidied and lit up and looking the way it should—to find a way for the city to earn that revenue in such a way that it doesn’t put businesses under and doesn’t force businesses to leave the jurisdiction. What you want ultimately and what I think the city council wants from the comments of the mayor, is for businesses to recognize that there are advantages to doing business in the city.  We at the Chamber recognize that this is the business center of the country—which is not to say that all business happens here, but it is the financial capital, it is the logistics capital and it is a tourism gateway as well. And in order to make the city put its best foot forward, everybody has to get involved to make that happen.”

 

Darrell Bradley

“We recognize our mistakes in the past, we recognize that we have been too uncompromising in the past—we have not listened in areas where we needed to listen. And we need to work in partnership and in friendship. Every great development in the world and in life has come as a result of a relationship, a partnership in some way.”

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