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Jun 26, 2019

Senators Debate Tax Administration and Procedure Bill (2019)

The Upper House met this morning in the Capital. A bill which seeks to merge the Income Tax and General Sales Tax departments into the Belize Tax Service Department was debated this morning by senators. The merger of these departments is expected to not only facilitate the official and effective administration and collection of domestic taxes but also improve service delivery to taxpayers. While the merger of both departments was generally welcomed, senators expressed several concerns. One of those concerns was the future employment status of employees. The Public Service Union was first to express concerns after it obtained correspondences reportedly sent by the officers of the Project Steering Committee to public officers in the affected departments, which purports to direct them into applying for vacant positions.  The P.S.U. says that it will not disregard or entertain the displacement of suitably qualified permanent established public officers in the affected department. Another concern raised by opposition senators was the use of public funds to merge the two departments as pointed out by lead P.U.P. Senator Michel Chebat.

 

Michel Chebat

Michel Chebat, Lead P.U.P. Senator

“Mr. President one of the initial concerns is clearly the cost of merging these two bodies together. The ultimate aim as I understand this legislation is obviously to increase government revenues and one would hope Mr. President that with the increase of revenues there would be the increase obligation on the part of the government in terms of greater accountability and transparency in how the public funds are being spent. Clearly Mr. President what we don’t want to see are more bloated contracts and mismanagement of the public’s fund.”

 

Valerie Woods

Valerie Woods, P.U.P. Senator

“For the first time in the history of Belize two significant government departments are coming together and I don’t think we should underestimate the impact of that to a citizenry that will now be held, quite frankly to a higher standard. I believe all of us in this chamber always want that, not hold our citizenry but even those in government and public service to a higher standard we also have to take the time to educate the citizenry on what this is about, what it means for them, what the implications are and how serious the consequences can be.”


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