The ramifications that COVID-19 will bring to Belize will be on other health sector is only of several departments that the Government is looking to address in the coming days. With the future arrival of COVID-19 in Belize, the Government is also looking at other sectors that will be affected especially the economy. Prime Minister Dean Barrow says a meeting is pending with personnel from the financial sector early next week where various options will be explored including tax breaks and moratoriums.
Rt.Hon Dean Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize: “Clearly the public health, the social and the economic ramifications of this phenomenon are such that absolute focus and the greatest concentration of effort are required to grapple with these ramifications. Belize is therefore preparing for all scenarios and we’re being guided by the lessons and best practices coming to us everyday from our own professionals and from the experiences of countries regionally and globally. Accordingly while the National Oversight Committee in it’s effort at superintendency will look at everything it will especially zero in on the economic aspects of the crisis thus at our first meeting scheduled for this coming Monday we will hear from the Governor of the Central Bank, the Financial Secretary and the CEO of the Ministry of Economic Development; they together with SSB will help the committee to map out the necessary response to deal with the impacts of the crisis on employees, on employers and on all sectors of the Belize economy. Matters we will be looking at include emergency aid to workers, a possible tax deferral, a supplementary budgetary allocation for corona related outlays, duty free importation of essential supplies, a moratorium on loan repayments at banks and credit unions and post corona fiscal stimulus that is by even more accelerated capital spending, salary advances to public officers and things of that sort.”
Love News asked Prime Minister to address the issue of price gouging where multiple consumers have been reporting a stark increase in items such as disinfectants, hand sanitizers, isopropyl alcohol, among others. As we reported yesterday these items are not price-controlled and therefore the Belize Bureau of Standards is unable to act on these reports. The Government would have to bring about a Statutory Instrument. Prime Minister Barrow, however, in addressing this issue, noted that the Government is hopeful that possible tax breaks would assist the consumers.
Rt.Hon Dean Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize: “Where we are is in a bad place at least in terms of some sections of humanity. You’d think that recognizing that this is an impending national crisis even merchants – well I shouldn’t say even merchants that sounds derogatory- that merchants would understand that they too have to cooperate in the national effort. So I pour scorn on the fact that there is price gouging taking place. Two things; as I said we’re going to take off the duties on things like hand sanitizers and other essential stuff related even if at some remove to the possible advent of the disease and number two the Ministry of Trade is looking at how to put hand sanitizers on the price control list so that the gouging can be stopped that we’d have to do as quickly as we can but together with the removal of the duties hopefully that will alleviate the problem.”