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Jul 4, 2019

Central Bank of Belize Explains Increase in Processing Fees

The Central Bank through the Belize Chamber of Commerce has released a statement on the matter of bank charges for the issuance of cheques which is stirring concerns in the business sector.  The new fees are linked to the Automated Payment and Securities Settlement System which came into effect on July first. The Central Bank says that after it implemented the A.P. Triple S in October 2016 with the goal to enable institutions to make payments faster and more secure, it shouldered the cost to acquire, implement and maintain the system for the past three years.  A pricing moratorium was imposed during a study period and the result of that study has led to a new pricing structure which the banks are being charged for the processing of cheques through the new system. Now, the Central Bank notes that since the introduction of the new pricing structure, banks have reduced the cost of electronic payment services while the costs of processing cheques are high.  Because of this, the Central Bank makes the point that the cheque fees will cause a shift to electronic payments.  The matter of the disquiet over the cheque fees came up on Wednesday. The Leader of the Opposition John Briceño called out the Barrow administration for once again taxing the Belizean people indirectly.

 

John Briceño

John Briceño, Leader of Opposition

“We have just a tax and spend government. They find any which way they could get their hands into the pockets of the Belizean people. And you say that it is Central Bank is taxing them but at the end of the day the profits of Central Bank are transferred to Central Government. So then again this is an indirect tax from this government. What is happening is that this government is placing so much emphasis on infrastructure and not has been placing the emphasis in growing the economy that can then address the issue of poverty, create more jobs and more monies can be circulated and at the end of the day government can collect more taxes. But their focus on this infrastructure development is costing them so much and now they have been scrambling like crack heads, trying to get as much money they can to be able to meet their wage bill, loans that they have to pay. That is something that must be address and I can assure you that we will find a way how to address that.”

 

Today, the Central Bank also said that cheques are high-risks and there are high handling, transmission, and storage costs associated. All in all, the system encourages businesses to shift to electronic transactions.


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