Archive for January, 2013

Belize asks for Canadian help in fighting Mexican drug

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

Spillover from Mexico’s violent drug war is prompting the Harper government and the Canadian military to become more involved in helping defend Belize.

A series of internal reports show that the government of Canada has quietly increased co-operation with Belize.

The documents, which all date from the spring 2012, describe the situation in Belize as deteriorating in the face of ultra-violent drug cartels that are battling not only Mexican and US law enforcement, but each other as well.

“Belize is of growing importance to the Canadian government due to the increasingly precarious security situation in Central America, particularly along the Belize-Mexico border,” said a March 23, 2012, briefing note prepared for Defence Minister Peter MacKay. He added: “Following increasing success to counter transnational criminal organizations (TCOs) in Mexico, these organizations have advanced into Belize, bringing with them violence and public insecurity.”

The long coastline, coral inlets and dark, gnarled jungles have been a mecca for tourists over the years, but also perfect cover for cocaine smugglers in fast boats coming up from Columbia.

The increasing cartel focus on Belize prompted U.S. President Barack Obama to add the country to the so-called “black list” of countries considered major drug-producing states or transit nations for narcotics.

Both the internal Defence Department reports and U.S. experts on the drug war in Central America say Belize has become an important thoroughfare for South American drug cartels.

“The Belizean security forces are over-matched when it comes to the kind of firepower and capacity that the traffickers have,” Olson said.

The jurisdiction’s minister of defence requested help from Canada when conducting a strategic defence review in 2011 involving the country’s more than 1,050 military, coast guard and national police forces, say the internal documents. Canada’s special forces recently delivered a batch of military equipment, including binoculars, combat clothing, helmets, boots, gloves and other gear.

Belize government almost completes superbond renegotiation

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

Last week, Prime Minister of Belize Dean Barrow along with Co-chair of the SuperBond Creditor’s Committee A.J. Mediratta held a joint press conference where announced that the terms of the renegotiated superbond is almost complete. It became known that the general economic terms of the restructuring have been agreed.

Mediratta had personal discussions with the Prime Minister on some issues. Speaking at the press conference, he said that the negotiation process has now moved to becoming conciliatory, and noted that Belize wanted to pursue the negotiations in good faith.

Prime Minister did not name the exact terms of the renegotiated Superbond, but said that there are significant savings that will materialize as a result of the new terms. In 2012, they will be $US11mln, and in 2013 they will go up to US$33mln. In 2013-2017, the Belize government would realize cash flow savings of about US$118mln, and they would achieve up to US$247mln between 2013 and 2022.

Belize Tourism Board reports progress and changes in tourism industry

Monday, January 21st, 2013

The Belize Tourism Board held the 12th Annual Industry Presentation, where it launched their marketing logo and new three-year tourism campaign after months of research and dialogue with key stakeholders and partners, and unveiled the 2013-2015 Action Plan, which seeks to strategically position Belize through innovative, industry targeted sub-branding of the overall new identity for Belize.

At the event, Minister of Tourism and Culture of Belize Hon. Manual Heredia Jr. highlighted the achievements of the Belize Tourism Board, and noted that there was an increase of tourism arrivals in the country, despite the challenges.

Minister of Tourism stated that Belize’s tourism industry growth was far greater than expected in 2012. He said that all airlines servicing Belize have indicated that flight destination to Belize were sold from December 15, 2012 to January 15, 2013. Also, the Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport (PGIA), serving the Belize city, reported an increase of 16% arrivals in 2012 compared to 2011.

Hon. Heredia stated that, despite the encouraging increase in tourism, perhaps even greater accomplishment in 2012 was the approval of the National Sustainable Tourism Master Plan which serves as a guide to improve systematic framework in the development and improvement of the tourism industry.

Mayor of Belize City commented on increase of Trade License fees

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

Business community of the Belize City is experiencing an increase in Trade License fees, which made from 10% to 30% for most affected businesses, and for some of them – even 200%. The reason is that the Trade License fee is calculated using the rental value of properties.

Mayor of Belize City Darrell Bradley said that he received a communication for the Chamber of Commerce asking to review sixty Trade License Assessments. He would talk to the Minister of Labor and Local Government of Belize about the legislation, and the committee will also review a list compiled by the Belize Chamber of Commerce.

By words of Darrell Bradley, they have already indicated to Chamber and will indicate to the Minister of Local Government that they are prepared to review any person’s trade assessment within five working days. As regards the legislation, he said that certain pieces of it need to be changed, to allow for the growth of small business. He noted that the trade license fee, which makes 25% of annual rental value, is “very stifling on small businesses”.

The issue had already been raised before, and the mayor said that the business community must seek legislative amendments with central government, if they want the trade license percentage to be changed. He recommended the implementation of a categorization system for small businesses with a special rate and payment schedules that could replace one full payment due every January.