Archive for the ‘Business and Economy’ Category

Belize Budget to indirect Taxes to Boost Revenues

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017

Belize has rejected International Monetary Fund (IMF) recommendations to raise taxes across the board in favor of more selective reforms that are proposed as less punitive to the jurisdiction’s businesses and poorest citizens.

In his budget speech the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance and Natural Resources, Dean Barrow, rejected the IMF’s “publicly rehearsed” advice to raise general sales tax (GST), ditch zero-rated treatment for certain products, cancel exemptions, and increase personal and business income taxes as these measures are “regressive and punitive to both citizens and enterprise.”

Instead of the above-mentioned, he announced a series of “pro-poor and pro-people” reforms, which he expected to increase revenues by 2.2% of GDP. These include a 10% income tax on statutory boards of “quasi government entities;” increasing the excise levy on aerated water, beer and stout, cement, and fuel; increasing the environmental charge on imported goods by 1%t; and raising stamp duty on foreign exchange permits by 0.5%.

Belize to hike Taxes in Upcoming Budget

Friday, March 10th, 2017

According to Belizean officials, the jurisdiction is to announce wide-ranging tax hikes in its upcoming Budget in order to solve its fiscal woes.

In a recent interview, Belize’s Financial Secretary Joseph Waight said that the Government of Belize cannot rule out tax increases. In February, the Government said it was considering potential options for hikes. “We don’t know just yet, that’s still in the process we are going through but I think that at this point in time it is inevitable that there will be an increase in some taxes,” Waight said.

Waight also said that business leaders and unions have told the Government of Belize that it should first of all improve the efficiency of the tax administration and only after that look at tax hike options.

Belizean Government to restructure Superbond to avoid Economic default

Monday, November 21st, 2016

In order to avoid a chaotic default early in 2017, the Government of Belize is urgently trying to restructure its billion-dollar debt arrangement, a Superbond that expires on 2038.

A team consisting of Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Right Honorable Dean Barrow, Financial Secretary Joseph Waight, and Economic Ambassador Mark Espat travelled to New York City, USA, to meet with the Government’s legal and financial advisors. From November 7 to November 12t, the group met with key personnel from Citigroup Global Markets Inc., Cleary Gottlieb Steen and Hamilton LLP, to work on a new round of negotiations to ease payments on the debt.

The Belizean Government urged bondholders to form a creditor committee before the end of November so as to agree to a restructuring of the debt. This amendment on the Bond, sought the reduction of Belize’s public debt expense through lower interest rates. Another suggestion tabled to the advisors was the possibility of extending the life of the Superbond beyond the expiration date of 2038.

Despite the fact that the jurisdiction is experiencing serious financial difficulties, it must meet external debt payments. The next payment to the Superbond is due on February 2017, so it is hoped that a restructuring happens as soon as possible in order to secure this guarantee.

According to Prime Minister Barrow, the meetings in the USA were preparatory before notifying bondholders and the public what it is expected of the restructuring.

Another cause for concern is Belize’s 2:1 exchange rate peg with the US dollar being affected. The Central Bank of Belize announced a couple weeks ago that the country’s foreign reserves were currently around USD 315 million. The international benchmark for exchange rate sustainability requires Belize to keep its foreign reserves at USD 300 million and above. Falling below this benchmark will result in the Belize dollar being devaluated.

Impressive tourism arrivals figures again

Thursday, October 13th, 2016

For 15 consecutive months from June 2015 to September 2016, the Tourism Industry of Belize has been experiencing record-breaking increases in overnight arrivals every month, with impressive double-digit increases of 33% growth.

It is now 9 months through 2016 and the tourism arrival figures continue to show this upward trend. The 3rd quarter is closing off with an incredible 26.9% increase for the month September 2016 over September 2015. Overall, the 1st 9 months of 2016 recorded a total of 293,622 overnight arrivals, a 16.4% increase over the same 9 months of 2015, which had 252,329 overnight arrivals.

Cruise arrivals were 54,569 passengers for September 2016, representing a 20.6% increase over September 2015. Overall, Cruise passenger arrivals recorded a moderate 1.3% increase for the 1st 9 months of 2016, despite having 12 fewer cruise vessels arriving in Belize, including cruise calls cancelled due to Hurricane Earl.

The largest market for Belize tourism is again the United States with 67.4% of the market share. The US is followed by Europe and Canada, respectively.