Archive for January, 2008

Belize Land Transportation Authority formed

Monday, January 28th, 2008

A new regulatory body has been formed in Belize in order to improve the jurisdiction’s growing transportation industry.

The new body called the Belize Land Transportation Authority (B.L.T.A.) is headed by former Commander of the Belize Defence Force, Brigadier General Cedric Borland. It has legal powers under the Belize Land Transportation Authority Act of 2007 that came into force on January 1, 2008.

According to Brig. General Borland, who heads the 9-member Board of Directors of the B.L.T.A., this is an autonomous body that will not depend on government revenue and will sustain itself.

The priorities to be accomplished over the next 6 years are as follows:
– improving road traffic safety,
– improving enforcement of traffic regulations and policies,
– providing quality service using a computerised system and modern technology,
– equipping and modernizing the B.L.T.A. In order to meet its function,
– providing required training for staff members,
– expanding and integrating with regional land transportation network.

Belize and CARIFORUM make EPA with EU

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008

According to a Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade release issued on December 21, 2007, a major trade agreement will significantly influence Belize in future.

CARIFORUM (CARICOM, including Belize, and the Dominican Republic) has made the economic trade agreement with the EU, or EPA, that covers trade in goods, services, competition, innovation, intellectual property, and other issues.

The EPA follows formal discussions that started in 2004. Under the trade agreement, all exports from CARIFORUM into the European Union will have duty free status. CARIFORUM has agreed to an 85% list of EU products to be allowed duty free access into CARIFORUM markets, while 15%, a selected group of EU products that are regarded as sensitive items, will not have duty free access to the region.

According to the agreement, over a 10-year period, the EU will provide technical assistance to CARIFORUM in order to assist it in amending Other Duties and Charges (ODC’s). Amendment of the ODC’s is intendedto make Belize’s tax regime compliant with the World Trade Organization (WTO).

IMF issues statement for Belize

Friday, January 18th, 2008

Following the conclusion of discussions in Belize City, in the middle of December 2007, an International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission issued a statement.

As part of its annual Article IV consultation with Belize, the IMF mission headed by Przemek Gajdeczka, Advisor in the IMF’s Western Hemisphere Department, met with government officials and private sector representatives in order to review recent economic and financial developments as well as to discuss economic prospects and policies.

The statement provided by the IMF team explained the following points:

– “Economic growth was boosted in 2006 by new oil discoveries and strong exports and, following a debt restructuring of early 2007, near-term macroeconomic prospects are broadly favorable. The economy is projected to grow by 2¼ percent in 2007, and inflation is expected at 3 percent. For 2008, real GDP growth is projected at about 3 percent, and inflation is expected to ease to 2½ percent.”

– “The successful implementation of the General Sales Tax boosted government revenue, although the fiscal deficit in the fiscal year ending March 2008 is projected to be somewhat larger than originally targeted. International reserves have remained broadly unchanged since last year.”

– “The discussions centered on macroeconomic policies needed to reduce fiscal and external vulnerabilities. It was recognized that, although the debt agreement of early 2007 had provided substantial liquidity relief, Belize’s high debt, vulnerable budget position and low reserves could affect financial stability and growth. An ambitious 2008/09 budget would signal commitment to fiscal consolidation.”

– “Over the medium term, fiscal policies aimed at substantially lowering debt ratios would ease access to market financing on favorable terms, especially when maturities on the recently restructured debt begin falling due and gross financing requirements will increase substantially. Rapid progress in fiscal structural reforms, including in the areas of revenue administration, multi-year budget planning, and debt management would support this effort.”

– “The IMF team supported the recent measures by the Central Bank of Belize to control domestic liquidity, and encouraged early introduction of market-based instruments of monetary management. These reforms combined with tight financial policies would support a gradual build-up of international reserves, which remain low by international standards.”

In Washington D.C., the IMF team will prepare a staff report that is planned to be discussed by the IMF’s Executive Board in February/March 2008. Soon after having been discussed, the staff report is expected to be public on the IMF’s website.

Belize Election Date announced

Sunday, January 13th, 2008

The Prime Minister of Belize, Rt. Hon. Said Musa has recently announced having obtained the Governor-General’s permission to set a general election for February 7, 2008.

This announcement was made by Musa on January 7, 2008 during a meeting with members of his Cabinet. The meeting was attended by a majority of Belize’s clergy. Musa also revealed his intention to advise the Governor-General, Sir Colville Young, to dissolve parliament.

Musa said that, iIn accordance with the constitution of Belize, His Excellency the Governor General issued a proclamation dissolving the National Assembly” and that nomination day has been set for January 21, and the general elections will be held on February 7.

According to the Prime Minister, Belizean voters will also participate in a referendum which will be on a separate ballot. The question of the referendum is whether Belize should have an elected senate. Currently, the Governor-General appoints the 12-member Senate from 6 members on the advice of the Prime Minister, 3 on the advice of the leader of the opposition, and 1 each on the advice of the Belize Council of Churches and Evangelical Association of Churches, the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Belize Better Business Bureau, and the National Trade Union Congress and the Civil Society Steering Committee.

The Prime Minister denied that holding 2 votes on the same day could confuse the electorate.