We have been reporting on the ongoing battle over trade license fees with City businesses reportedly thinking of moving outside of the Old Capital’s boundaries to Ladyville and Hattieville which pay no kind of license fee at all. The City charges 25% of rental value by square foot annually which results in inequal payments and complaints. There is a proposal to reduce this to 12.5% and to go to volume of business conducted. The Mayor told us today that he hopes this will have a greater effect in terms of how much revenue the City gets and how many businesses are willing to stay.
“Well when you look at something like that, one of the things that we are saying in terms of a rationale, we want to make money on volume rather than on individual business. What we think as a strategy is that we want to grow economic development within Belize. If I am collecting twenty-five percent of your annual rental value from ten people and I squeeze those people so that they pay me that money, that’s not as good as if I have a thousand people paying twelve and a half percent; I am getting more from the volume of it. So that that’s something that we have been working on for the past two years. We have been engaging with the Chamber of Commerce and other stakeholders in terms of putting together a proposal that everybody can live with. The reduction in the rate is something that all the mayors and the Chamber of Commerce are buying into. We are also putting in place a flat rate for small businesses based on square footage, so that if you operate a business less than two hundred square foot, then you are going to have a rate of one hundred dollars per year. Part of our discussion is also that we want to include our budget projections so that because we have been working on this for the last two years, we know how we will make up the shortfalls in terms of meeting increased targets with collecting arrears in property taxes, trade licenses and then ensuring that there is a certain amount of growth in businesses.”
No date has been set for the implementation.