Belize - Belize News - - Great Belize Productions - Belize Breaking News
Home » Economy » Consumers brace for G.S.T. implementation
Jun 30, 2006

Consumers brace for G.S.T. implementation

Story PictureTomorrow morning Belizeans will wake up to a brand new tax: the General Sales Tax. From its inception, the tax has been categorized as a close cousin of the much maligned Value Added Tax. And today News Five’s Alyssa Noble discovered that the G.S.T. is already creating its own brand of chaos.

Amparo Noble, General Manager, The Angelus Press Ltd.
?We have already paid Sales Tax on it and now we have to pay the ten percent G.S.T. and that will have an impact on the prices that consumers will pay.?

Alyssa Noble, Reporting
That fact has businesses and customers concerned. Come tomorrow, many companies will be forced to either charge an additional ten percent G.S.T. or take hit.

Santino Castillo, C.E.O., San Cas Group of Companies
?What the Santiago Castillo group of companies decided to do is for the months of July and August, is that we are suspending all discounts that we would normally give. Like the Wednesday five percent at Bottom Dollar and employee discounts, etc. and instead we are absorbing the ten percent on most of the items. And on those items where the margin is too close, we will absorb five. So that consumers should not see an increase in our prices at Save-U, Bottom Dollar and the People?s Store of more than five percent.?

Leopoldo Silva, Owner, Venus Photos and Records
?Today we have a pre-G.S.T. sale. Tomorrow we have no intention of raising our prices. So I think initially we will be absorbing the full ten percent. Whatever we need to send to the government, we will send it in full. We will need to look at that on a day to day basis and determine if we will be adding on a gradual increase.?

Amparo Noble
?What it means for us today is that the retail outlets and all our staff will have to cram this evening to actually get those prices. Because it is a requirement that the prices include the ten percent G.S.T., so all those items will need to be changed. I don?t think we?ll be able to complete everything tonight but I think up until the morning the staff will be working to do that.?

Time estimates as to how long the double whammy will last varies.

Santino Castillo
?We really don?t see us back on stream until maybe eighty or ninety percent of our inventory depleted. The day I have set is September twenty-first, by then we should be back to normal. But like I said, we will be absorbing it for that period.?

Leopoldo Silva
?As a rule, in about three months we kind of get rid of the old stock or at least we are able to change the stock.?

Amparo Noble
?I would say that for school supplies, office supplies, we would say it turns over about every three to four months. Business Machines would probably take a bit longer, four sometimes even six. With the printing, well those are parts of production so I would imagine that for the most part up to six months to really clear out the inventories that will include the double taxation.?

And while along side the businesses are busting a sweat to get ready, the staff of the General Sales Tax department is also putting in some long hours.

Beverly Castillo, Commissioner, Sales Tax
?Today is a Consumer Awareness and G.S.T. registration drive. It?s the eve of implementation of G.S.T. and we are stationed here at the Save-U parking lot, in front of Brodie?s, at the Custom?s Department and at Mahogany Street Complex where our offices are located. It?s to ensure that everybody is given a fair opportunity to register and to do so before tomorrow which is the 1st of July. And also to advise consumers of their rights, make them aware of how G.S.T. will impact them.?

But just how conscious are the consumers?

Alyssa Noble
?Just tell me a little bit more if you know about G.S.T. or what you know about GST? ?

Consumer #1
?Well I don?t know anything much about it. I just heard a little about it on the radio, but I don?t know anything much about it.?

Consumer #2
?Honestly, I really don?t know anything about it.?

Consumer #3
?Well as far as I?m concerned, I just see it as another additional tax. I am not sure what will be taxed on. As far as I?m concerned, it?s just an additional tax, but the particulars, I really do not know.?

Education efforts aside, Belmopan has also been accused of failing to give businesses a break.

Santino Castillo
?The announcement that no Sales Tax would be charged anymore was made on June twentieth, which was Tuesday. By the time you call your suppliers in Miami to ship, they couldn?t ship, it?s just arriving now. Customs is a mad house. So many people didn?t benefit from that at all and those that benefited may have done so with a container or two, but it?s no great thing. Where they should have given you support was with what the Chamber of Commerce was proposing to have independent auditors take stock of your inventory and see how much goods you have in stock. And if you have a million dollars worth of goods, then the nine percent on that would have been ninety thousand dollars, give you that credit towards the G.S.T. that would have been more practical. That was what the Chamber was recommending, but that was obviously refused.?

According to a response by Financial Secretary Dr. Carla Barnett, the suggestion was shot down because officials were uncertain that the credit would indeed be reflected in the prices and that it would be difficult to separate legitimate products from contraband goods. The B.C.C.I., isn?t buying those excuses and in a comeback issued late yesterday evening, the Chamber is appealing to G.O.B. to ?review the situation again in an effort to avoid the negative effects of a generally better tax.?

Reporting for News Five, I am Alyssa Noble.

We understand tonight that the Belize Chamber of Commerce is planning to launch an education campaign on taxation issues. In related news, today the Central Statistical Office announced that on Monday it will be conducting random checks at Belize City stores to make sure prices stay within reason. But the release emphasizes the survey will only be done in Belize City, which might very well leave consumers outside city limits vulnerable to price gouging.

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.

Advertise Here

You must be logged in to post a comment Login