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PM Barrow reverses decision to impose GST on Agricultural Land Clearing

Prime Minister Dean Barrow has decided not to impose the 12.5 % General Sales Tax on land preparation for agriculture, harvesting and crop dusting services. This was one of seven of the Prime Minister’s tax measures he proposed during his budget speech two weeks ago. However, that tax measure will not be implemented following a meeting this morning between the Prime Minister, the Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner of General Sales Tax, the Executive Members of the Belize Agro-Productive Sector Group, and the President of the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Via a release, the Government explained that the purposing for the GST was to quote, “close loopholes and stop the blatant abuse that has been an unacceptable feature of the claims for GST refunds coming from that sector of the economy. In the end, however, the Government accepted that while the S.I. might have succeeded in achieving that objective, it would have resulted in overall prejudice to the Sector.” End of quote. The decision also comes after the three sugar cane producer associations in the north wrote the Prime Minister asking him to desist from applying GST to these agricultural practices. The association expressed that this will impede them from effectively competing on the world market. According to the Government, the Chamber of Commerce and the Belize Agro-Productive Sector Group will work together with the GST Department and their memberships to find other effective ways of dealing with the abuse and excessive claims.