Archive for the ‘Business and Economy’ Category

CARICOM supports Belize against Guatemala

Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

Belize received unanimous support from leaders from throughout the Caribbean community (CARICOM) who attended the 38th Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) in St George’s, Grenada in the beginning of June.

The CARICOM leaders reiterated their support for the sovereignty, territorial integrity and security of Belize. Also, they noted that a protocol is to be developed for the Sarstoon. They also expressed hope that the referendum would be held at earliest convenience so that the matter might be settled at the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

The regional leaders also reviewed the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) with new gusto to accelerating its implementation to allow Caribbean nationals full benefit. Belize stressed on the importance of the CSME for Belize’s sugar and called for policies to support intra-regional trade in sugar.

Also, the CARICOM Human Resource Development 2030 Strategy was discussed at the event, which is a work plan for a Single ICT space, regional transportation, regional security and promoting regional tourism, and dealing with non-communicable diseases.

On the last topic, the leaders received a report that evaluated the implementation of the CARICOM Heads of Government Port of Spain Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) Summit Declaration. This report warned that the Caribbean had the highest mortality rate from NCDs in the Americas, and that more than 40% of those deaths are premature.

The leaders agreed there is a need to apply new efforts, through legislation and intensified public education campaigns, to reduce the ravages of diseases.

Barrow comments IMF outlook of Belize

Wednesday, June 28th, 2017

The International Monetary Fund (IMF), in light of Belize’s poor economic outlook, offered Belize several recommendations in its latest report on the jurisdiction; however Prime Minister Dean Barrow has openly rejected most of their recommendations.

Responding to the IMF’s recommendations after its routine Article IV Consultation, Barrow emphasized that Belize would not be implementing the recommendations despite the IMF saying that the country’s medium term economic outlook was “weak”.

“There is absolutely no obligation on our part to follow any of it and certainly with respect to the recommendations as to raising the GST and as to doing away with exemptions and the recommendations having to do with pensions and public officers. We absolutely reject those. As we have made clear repeatedly,” Barrow told the media.

He added that Belize’s economic difficulties were only temporary problems.

The IMF recommended, among other things that GOB increase General Sales Tax (GST) from 12.5 to 15%, and that it increase revenue inflows from GST by removing the list of zero-rated goods. The fund estimates that each of the reforms could yield up to 1% of GDP. The IMF also recommended civil service reforms to address the amount paid out in pensions and the number of public servants, in an attempt to contain the country’s wage bill, which is the largest in the region. The IMF’s assessment said that Belize had high public debt, decreasing economic performance, and a lack of strict fiscal consolidation policies, low growth projections, and increased unemployment, which were major factors in the poor economic outlook. Also, the International Monetary Fund pointed to over USD 100 million in outstanding arbitration awards; and the withdrawal of corresponding banking relationships as issues that further brought the outlook down.

Belize should increase Consumption Taxes, IMF says

Tuesday, June 20th, 2017

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) says that Belize should increase the General Sales Tax rate in order to cut its deficit.

According to the IMF, the jurisdiction should consider measures including broadening the base of the General Sales Tax (GST) and increasing its rate to the regional average of 15% (from 12.5%). It said that both steps could increase revenues by 1% of GDP (gross domestic product).

It was also indicated by the IMF that electronic tax filing and payment systems could also be enhanced, especially for GST and income tax, where less than 10% of registered taxpayers file or pay their taxes electronically.

In his March budget speech, Dean Barrow, Belize’s Prime Minister and Minister of Finance and Natural Resources, 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 “regressive and punitive to both citizens and enterprise.” He instead announced a series of “pro-poor and pro-people” reforms, which he said would increase revenues by 2.2% of GDP. These include a 10 percent 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%; and raising stamp duty on foreign exchange permits by 0.5%.

Belize to strengthen ties with Barbados

Thursday, June 15th, 2017

Minister of Tourism, Manuel Heredia Jr. is making an effort to enhance working relationship of Belize with the government of Barbados. The Minister says that tourism in both countries can benefit from closer collaboration.

According to Heredia, he has already began talks with Barbados’ Tourism Minister, Richard Sealy, on possible areas of cooperation for the tourism sectors.

“The whole Caribbean is a magnificent market but Barbados is far ahead of us when it comes to development. I believe there are some things that we have to learn from you all, but there are also good things you can learn from us also”, he said in an interview.

Heredia gave examples such as joint destination marketing campaigns and an airlift from Barbados to Belize, with a possible connection to Cuba, as examples where each country can benefit from a closer relationship. He indicated that both Belize and Barbados have uniques aspects that would allow the other to benefit from the collaboratio.