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October 31, 2023

Senate holds up Trade License Bill again after complaints

Posted: Tuesday, October 31, 2023. 10:19 am CST.

By Aaron Humes: More than a year after it was first introduced, the Trade Licensing Bill, 2022 has been held up again in the Senate.

The Government planned a repeal of the original Act and intends the new legislation to empower village councils to collect trade license fees in rural communities from qualified businesses.

But the Opposition continues to insist that those of lesser means are being taxed, as argued by Senator Beverly Williams: “It was in the Prime Minister’s presentation on the budget that he said there are no taxes in this one. But what is this, if it is not a tax, a tax on the poor people with the already high cost of living. When you resort to taxing the peddlers then you know something is very wrong. All the peddlers will do is add that tax to their cost and the cost of living will keep going up. Panades gone up when I buy it last week I couldn’t share it. But within the concept of taxation, it is always there were some levels of exemption, some categories cause when you look at the peddlers and small man, it is very burdensome on any administration to manage that.”

Following the pointing out of errors by the Opposition and by business Senator Kevin Herrera, Leader of Government Business Senator Eamon Courtenay reiterated the intent of the bill while conceding it needs further review: “The intention of this legislation is to empower the local government both at the town and city level as well as the village level. Additionally, the intention is to give them a clear, more consistent stream of income. This is a commitment that was made by the government in Plan Belize. It is clear that there are a number of errors, and sections that are cited that need to be corrected. Senator Herrera and Williams raised some issues of policy that can be looked at and considered. We have agreed that the bill should remain in committee for consideration and possibly amendment.”

 

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