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Northern Caucus of PUP puts pressure on Prime Minister: no more tax concessions, exemptions and subsidies for BSI/ASR

Posted: Wednesday, January 3, 2024. 6:12 am CST.

By Aaron Humes: Recognizing the political pressure they face from a region in which they control seven of eight seats in the House of Representatives and both municipal town councils, the latter of which is up for re-election in three months, the Northern Caucus of the People’s United Party (PUP) has waded into the dispute between the Belize Sugar Industries Limited/American Sugar Refining (BSI/ASR) and Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association (BSCFA).

Its five-point resolution of support issued at the BSCFA membership meeting in Buena Vista, Corozal on Tuesday demands in its second point that “BSI/ASR receive no further tax concessions and/or exemptions and fuel subsidies from the Government and People of Belize.” The 2012 Sugar Industry and Co-Generation Project Development Incentives Act currently grants ASR exemptions on income tax, business tax, taxes on dividends and payments for technical services, taxes on interest payments to non-residents, Customs and Excise duties, environmental tax, stamp duties and exemption from exchange control restrictions.

Its third point “does not support the inclusion of throughput fees and terminal handling charges in the extension or renewal of the commercial agreement,” the point over which talks broke down over the weekend. Prime Minister John Briceno is said to be negotiating this with ASR principals.

The Caucus also asks for the expeditious appointment and activation of the Commission of Inquiry into the sugar industry; denounces BSI/ASR’s alleged attempts to get individual BSCFA members to sign one-year contracts to weaken the Association, and calls on both parties to ink a mutually beneficial deal as soon as possible.

 

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