Posted: Monday, December 23, 2019. 11:41 am CST.
By Aaron Humes: The House of Representatives passed on Friday, and the Senate considers today, several bills to meet a deadline imposed by the European Union. The bills were passed to get rid of the blacklisting by the E.U. which placed Belize on the list in March, stating that Belize was a tax haven. The EU says that Belize has significant shortfalls when it comes to laws that favor tax evasion. With the legislation passed, the shortfalls are wiped out and the E.U. will recognize Belize as a cooperative jurisdiction. The passage of the bills was supported by both sides of the aisle.
These bills include: Income and Business Tax (Amendment) Bill, to provide for taxation of foreign source receipts under the business tax; Free Zones (Amendment) Bill, to remove the requirement for a permit for certain services to operate within the free zone; Fiscal Incentives (Amendment) Bill, to remove the prohibition on a declaration as an approved enterprise if that enterprise has products destined for the domestic or CARICOM market.
Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Dean Barrow announced during the presentation of the bill that a consultant, one Wayne Snider, has been assisting with dialogue and drafting of amendments, and was available to the House committee and subsequently the whole House if there are any questions and had spoken to the Opposition before the meeting.
“It is of course not the optimum situation that very, very important and very technical legislation like this one and the others should be passed all at once but I am afraid that the deadline that the E.U. has imposed on us it is that we have been left with no choice and therefore I ask that this is taken through all its stages this day,” the Prime Minister said.
John Briceño, Leader of the Opposition, added, “I have met with Mister Snider a few times along with members of the offshore practitioners and they have gone through the proposed bills. Whilst they are not happy, they understand that we don’t really much of an option.”
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