REPORT #579 December 2002

Produced by the Belize Development Trust

Obviously the Peoples United Party never heard of cutting taxes to stimulate the economy? Or maybe they did, but since they borrowed $1.2 billion to finance their first three years of this term, which will pay $3.4 billion before it is paid off with interest. Maybe their PUP argument is cutting taxes is not possible. We need the money to pay the PUP incurred national foreign debts? 59% of GDP and 83% of total GOB indebtedness. Not counting the interest either!


Dear Editor:
The Christmas tourist season this year, which has just come and gone, has been unseasonably slow on CayeCaulker compared to other years. There could be several reasons for this. However, I will not get into that in this letter.Still, next week (2003), our small locally-owned Mom and Pop businesses on Caye Caulker will pay in the form of taxes or fees the following: Tour Operator Licensing fees for our small snorkel shops, Tour Guide licensing fees for our local tour guides, a boat licensing fee for our small snorkel boats (which is in addition to the boat licensing fee we must also pay the Fisheries Department), a Fishing License permit fee for our fishing guides, and entrance fees into"fishing zones" along the reef. We also pay sales tax on our snorkel trip sales, business tax on our gross income, and hotel tax to the Tourist Board. We pay entrance fees for our guests to the Hol Chan Marine Park and Shark Ray Alley.

We must pay a registration fee to register our small Mom and Pop accommodations with the Tourist Board and I understand that the tour guides to Hol Chan will soon be required to have and pay for an additional specialized Hol Chan Marine Park license, and that the Manatee area at Swallow Caye will soon carry an entrance fee. We must also pay the Tourist Board to register even our dories. All these boats, in addition to their licensing fees, are obligated to purchase insurance due to a Tourist Board stupid bureaucratic regulation. Our employees also pay income taxes and social security taxes. In addition, our Caye Caulker properties are assessed probably some of the highest property tax fees in the entire country. Our bar establishments also pay liquor licenses fees to operate on the island. Since our businesses are quite small in nature, we usually do not qualify for any tax breaks, tax concessions, duty free exemptions or any tax or fee breaks of any kind. You can imagine, then, my utter contempt and disgust to read in the Amandala of last week an article that suggested that villages, traditionally exempt from the trade licensing fee requirement, will now be subjected to yet another burdensome tax / fee.

Sadly, it is the small struggling locally-owned Mom and Pop operations that are the life blood of any village economy that will again be affected by yetanother bad decision by yet another tax piranha agency, if indeed such a thing is allowed to pass. GOB, BTB, Village Council, Income Tax Department and any other tax collecting agency or tax collector wannabe, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!I have long believed that this Government is more concerned with the welfare of its richest business establishments only, and indeed cares very little for the poor locally-owned struggling entrepreneurs. This is indicated by even a brief analysis of San Pedro as a case study. Even though there are over sixty hotels registered in San Pedro, fewer than ten of those beachfront hotels are in the hands of born and raised San Pedranos. This says only one thing to me and it is that the policies of our governments and governing bodies are created with a particular intent to fail local participation. They care only about the richest businesses, most of who take their profits out of the country. But, I digress. Discussing that point was also not the intent of this letterThe argument of the GOB in the Amandala article for wanting to make history by now assessing trade licensing fees on village establishments as Iunderstand it is to "increase the tax base for villages."

While this might be a noble idea in theory, the truth of the matter is that public perception is that the incredibly burdensome tax dollars we currently already pay serve only one purpose and that is to enrich the pockets of the politicians collecting them and/or their friends. Why should we the poorer people again be made to pay more money so the richer could live larger? There is absolutely no transparency or accountability as to where our tax monies go - neither by GOB or Village Council, or any body in between. Good accounting practices (as the article alluded would be the requirement for qualifying to collect these funds)is not the answer to more taxation, as many people like myself wholeheartedly believe, that good accounting practices have simply become a camouflage for tricky numbering. I am forced to believe this since a request I made close to a year ago in writing to the Caye Caulker Village Council wanting to peruse their accounting records has been met with nothing more than stony silence up to today. We have absolutely no input or say as to where these funds(OUR tax monies) can be best spent, and in fact, are not even given the opportunity to even SUGGEST how our monies could be best spent.

Kaka-maime schemes are conjured up by those in power (who have more than we could ever have) to benefit their little cliques, with little or no benefit to us the smaller folks, and yet they look to us the small folks to finance their ever thirsty need for more money (for their personal expenses?). For too long, Mom and Pop businesses in this country have been reduced to nothing more than little tax paying sheep who must keep our mouths shut or face jail time. I, for one, am fed up with being asked to finance the rich lifestyles of those that have much more than me. Villagers and Belizeans everywhere, I strongly urge you to practice civil disobedience to this new trade license tax and any other new taxes on our already burdened small village businesses until such time that all our governing bodies, including the GOB, the BTB, the Village Council, etc., can provide to Belizeans everywhere; thorough and audited financial statements stating clearly exactly where all out tax monies are going. After all, if they put all the entrepreneurs and business people in jail, who will they then collect taxes from? The big and richest business who can most afford to pay taxes are probably already all tax exempt. In unity there is strength! Season's Greetings to all!

Back to Main Belize Development Trust Page

Maintained by Ray Auxillou, Silvia Pinzon, MLS, and Marty Casado. Please email with suggestions or additions for this Electronic Library of Belize.