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GOB expected to lose tax revenue with border re-opening

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Posted: Monday, February 14, 2022. 10:32 am CST.

By Aaron Humes: Minister of State for Finance, Christopher Coye, subscribes to the view that “there is a general feeling that the borders being closed has had a positive impact on local business activity.” This would include local wholesale and retail trade and manufacturing which translated to an improvement in tax collection. With millions going across the border, tax collection would be expected to reduce.

Additionally, there is the prediction that some businesses may begin defaulting on loans now that the forbearance measures of banks have come to an end. Reporters, therefore, asked Minister Coye if the borders should have been reopened.

He noted in his response that Belize does have to maintain, among its fundamental rights and freedoms, the right to movement, but does also allow that the closure of the borders helped local manufacturing and goods as well as revenue.

“There is a general view that there is, with the borders closed, an enhancement in local business activity and local tax collection and I can’t say I would disagree with that view. At the same time, we are a nation of laws, we are a free and independent democracy, and actually, it is in our Constitution that we have the protection of freedom of movement. And so it is, I would say, part of the exercise of those rights and the Government enabling the protection of the exercise of those rights, that it ultimately has to come down to that prevailing,” Coye said.

By one estimate in 2019, Belize gave up some $150 million in expenditure in Chetumal, of which it could claw back some revenue through payments of duties and monies for permits, passports, licenses, and the like.

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