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Chamber of Commerce Questions the Balancing Act of Servicing Debt and Creating Economic Growth

The BTL arbitration award has been the topic of discussion ever since the final ruling was made late last month, indicating that Belize would have to pay approximately half a billion dollars to Lord Michael Ashcroft for the company. The Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry issued a release today addressing the award. The BCCI says the most critical and sobering question is how to keep our county afloat while servicing the massive and growing national debt and at the same time create economic growth.  The BCCI says there will be no improvement in the economy, unless Government commits to not implementing any new taxes and no further tax increases. It says the issue of tax and duty evasion must be addressed with the utmost seriousness and evaders must be dealt with to the fullest extend the law provides.  It points out that inefficiencies in government places an undue burden on taxpayers. Structural efficiencies can be obtained through strategic changes in energy management, asset management, service standardization and merit based personnel management. The final recommendation from the BCCI is that urgent measures and policy adjustments be put in place to encourage entrepreneurship, innovation, business development and investment should be applied with urgency. The BCCI says it makes itself available to assist and be an agent for positive change in any such effort. The BCCI says it maintains its position that any nationalization should be an act of last resort since it undermines investor confidence. The BCCI says it reiterates the view that the BTL accommodation agreement was an egregious document and no government should make such a commitment ever again.  It goes on to say while it applauds the decision to negotiate the settlement of the acquisition, it cannot support the manner in which the negotiations took place since it is their belief that Belizeans should have been consulted on a decision of that magnitude.