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Cane farmers warn that new taxes will hurt Belizeans’ pockets

Posted: Monday, March 19, 2018. 5:16 p.m. CST.

By BBN Staff: In a letter sent to Prime Minister Dean Barrow dated March 16, the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association (BSCFA), Corozal Sugar Cane Producers Association and the Progressive Sugar Cane Producers Association Board of Directors, pleaded for the government to reconsider new tax policies proposed in the 2018/2019 budget.

The farmers say they are dismayed and concerned over the new tax measures, particularly those related to the agricultural sector. The farmers specifically noted the proposal to remove GST exemptions for broad categories of land clearing, crop dusting and harvesting. The farmers say this will have a very serious and negative impact on agricultural production, which has already struggled in recent years.

Farmers fear this could jeopardize the livelihoods of the almost 5,000 sugar cane farmers that make up the three associations. The farmers further added that these measures will result in increased cost of production for farmers, and will make it difficult for farmers to remain competitive in international markets. The associations view the measure as a “step backwards” and note that most farmers don’t own their own equipment and rely on larger producers to provide these services for them, which further drive up the cost of production. The associations also noted that most farmers are not registered with GST and are ineligible to claim refunds because they do not fall into the bracket for registration.

The farmers also say the measures will increase the rate of inflation and the cost of living since the farmers will undoubtedly have to pass on the cost to the consumer just to turn a meager profit. The farmers have asked GOB to work with small farmers in finding solutions and considering other incentives to promote the development of the productive sector.

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