Prime Minister Dean Barrow is looking to wrap up his final term in office and with that there is the expectation that several initiatives will be fast forward as he seeks to exit on a positive note. There were several areas that the Government is seeking to reform or revamp with the trade licenses system being one of those areas. According to the Prime Minister, this move seeks to fall in line with their goal of making adjustments that would prove stimulating to the economy.
“Cabinet has as well endorsed a legislative redesign of both the Trade License System and the Building Act. The former, a consequence of extensive EDC collaboration, will bring greater transparency, predictability and proficiency to the trade licensing process. And the latter should further stimulate the construction sector, a flourishing segment of the economy constituting over 4% of annual output, which 4% is a proportion up by 60% since 2010. To do better is likewise why the EDC will shortly receive and review a conclusive analysis of all taxes and fees in effect across the economy, with the goal of recommending growth-stimulating adjustments to current levies and rates. To do better is similarly the reason for the Ministry of Investment’s re-purposing strategy for Commercial Free Zones and collaboration with the business sector on a Trade Policy Framework already approved by Cabinet.”
As it relates to taxes and expenditure on certain sectors, Prime Minister expressed his view on the issues where he somehow sought to point to a silver lining.
“It is true that our overall tax take is a shade higher than in some other regional countries, and the private sector can perhaps point to that with some apprehension. On the other hand, we can also ask why it is that under 5000 companies are on the tax rolls. Also, less than 1 in 5 citizens actually pay income taxes, and safety net spending on education, health and security eats up 48 cents of every recurrent revenue dollar. These too are factors that no doubt provoke the private sector. But I am persuaded that ultimately efforts at middle class tax containment and investment in social programs which empower especially the less well off, are what help to distinguish us from more volatile and oligarchical states.”
In 2015, the Belize Chamber of Commerce proposed that in the trade licenses system that businesses be put in different categories and be assessed based on size and the type of business being operated.