Friday, July 12, 2024

The Opposition calls on the government to not raise taxes

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The Opposition, the United Democratic Party (UDP), calls on the current administration to abstain from increasing taxes, particularly in areas like motor vehicles, road permits, and within all the villages in the country. According to the UDP, last week’s Cabinet briefing hinted at these possible implementations that will cause more damage than good to the Belizean people.

The alleged taxation on motor and road permits comes out of a statement in the Cabinet briefing saying, ‘Cabinet gave its approval for the Ministry of Public Utilities, Energy and Logistics to review the fees in the Motor Vehicle and Road Traffic Order of 2003.’ In that same briefing, the government announced that the Ministry of Rural Transformation, Community Development, Labour, and Local Government approved implementing trade licensing reforms in all municipalities and villages. These reforms are to modernize and standardize the trade licensing system.

This means the new form of taxation is at the village level, where they will be able to charge trade licensing fees for the first time. These modifications will be forwarded to the Attorney General for drafting and then implementation. Minister of Rural Transformation, Community Development, Labor & Local Government, Hon. Oscar Requeña told the media that exact fees for rural communities are yet to be finalized. He said that the trade license fees applied in the villages would depend on the classification of businesses. This will deal with what will be known as the ‘productive space’ or, in other words, payment will apply only for the area where the business activity is taking place.

Hon. Oscar Requeña

Requeña explained that such an initiative is to assist rural communities with opportunities to obtain more revenues. Village Councils sometimes have little to no financial support from the central government. This new system will allow them to generate more revenue and do more in their communities.

A couple of village council leaders have shared that their only revenue is from liquor licensing fees. The villages need proper road maintenance, clearing drains, and dealing with other issues for which the rural authority has little to no resources. This system is expected to uplift the services within these communities via the additional funds generated from the trade license fees.

The UDP, however, condemns these actions and a press release vehemently states that they oppose any increase in taxes on Belizeans in any sector at this time. The Opposition party highlights the already depressed state of the national economy brought by COVID-19, the rise in unemployment, the oppressively high cost of fuel, food, other commodities, and the cut in salaries for public officers and teachers.

The UDP demands that instead of increasing taxes, the People’s United Party government should restore the 10% salary taken from public officers and teachers and implement a few of their manifesto promises. Some of the pledges pointed out include the increase in the minimum wage salary, the high cost of fuel, and the development of an equitable social assistance distribution program.

 

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