Chamber & CitCo to address trade licenses

Trade license time is here for the Belize City Council and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry is asking Minister for Local Government Godwin Hulse to intervene. BCCI CEO Kim Aikman said elsewhere in the press that they have been meeting with the Minister since last year to forward a proposal for a change in the rate of assessment that some businesses claim was behind a massive increase in fees last year. As the proposal has not been completed the Chamber wants City Hall not to go forward with business assessments. But today, Mayor Darrell Bradley says he is not responsible for creating the law, only implementing it.

Mayor Darrell Bradley:

vlcsnap-2013-09-19-10h02m34s109Every year in the months of September and October we send out these notices to remind people that by December you have to pay your business trade license. I have also been in discussions with various groups including the mayors association to really discuss how the trade license regime can be changed. One of the difficulties that I recognized that the Chamber raises, is that rate in the trade license act is too high, its 25% and also the issue of how the tax is assess, is destructive of business. I have said this publicly I agree with that assessment because, for example you can look at a situation where somebody owns a warehouse, and they don’t sell anything but because they have a big warehouse, their trade license is very high because it’s based on square footage and rental value. Where as you can have a very small business like a law firm or like a real estate broker, and they pay a very small amount of trade license but they may do a huge volume of business.

MayorBradley says he welcomes the Chamber’s proposals.

Mayor Darrell Bradley:

We recognized that, that is not a perfect fit, that’s why we propose a change to adapt something like a categorization system, and we have developed a categorization that has 300 categories of businesses and what you could do, is you could agree on a flat rate or a range of rates and what we would suggest because what I hear from the business community is above the amount of the taxes that they are charged they want or they are concerned about it, they want it to be fixed. And a flat rate of course will fix the tax to a specific rate. But I have indicated to them, that that is something that the Chamber of Commerce needs to fight, and they need to lobby for. We are entrusted with the enforcement of the law, we didn’t make the trade license law, we didn’t set the rate, that is set by the Central Government and the Central Government needs to change it, but of course they need proposals from the Chamber of Commerce as it relates to how to change It, to adapt to a situation that is beneficial to everybody and of course the City has to be a part of it because we need our revenue. In that discussion we will not lead it. The Chamber of Commerce needs to adapt their role as an advocacy group and they need to lead that discussion.

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