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Minister of Culture on trade license for entertainers: “We cannot have an economy in which 50 percent of the participants follow the rules”

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Posted: Sunday, May 15, 2022. 12:54 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: Minister of Education, Culture, Science and Technology Francis Fonseca has backed the Trade Licensing Bill 2022 while acknowledging that “certain changes will be necessary.”

And, he says that while those affected will be welcome to voice their concerns at the Committee meeting on the Bill to be announced in due course, the Bill has only had its first reading and is not yet law; that comes after the Committee meeting and further debate in the House of Representatives and Senate.

Writing on social media, he points out that the new bill corrects a perceived inequality in the treatment of certain trades and professions: “We talk a lot in Belize about the need for meaningful, sustainable economic development. To achieve this requires a properly structured economy which protects and respects legitimate investments and generates fair, reasonable revenues for the government. We cannot have an economy in which 50 percent of the participants follow the rules, register their businesses and pay license fees while the other 50 percent operate completely outside of the formal economy while remaining in direct competition to the first 50 percent. That is simply unsustainable and the country will not grow and develop. Like everything else in life, we need balance and fairness.”

But, he adds, “As the Minister of Culture, I can appreciate the concerns being raised by artists/ entertainers regarding the current fee structure given the prevailing economic conditions. There appears to be a lot of misunderstanding about the proposed fee structure and this will have to be clarified before we proceed. These concerns will be taken into account as we proceed with the Bill. …I am confident that the Bill will be reviewed to ensure that it is both fair and balanced. Let us allow the Bill to work its way through the Parliamentary process. As always, all interested parties and the general public are free to provide their views to the relevant House Committee for due consideration.”

The date when the Public Service, Labour, Trade and Industry Committee meets will be announced in due course.

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