“We can’t have an economy where 50% of participants follow the rules”

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Posted: Sunday, May 15, 2022. 12:54 p.m. CST.

By Aaron Humes: Education, Culture, Science and Technology Minister Francis Fonseca backed the Commercial Licensing Bill 2022 while acknowledging that “some changes will be required”.

And, he says that while affected people will be welcome to voice their concerns at the committee meeting on the bill which will be announced in due course, the bill has only had its first reading and will not is not yet law; which comes after the Committee meeting and the subsequent debate in the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Writing on social media, he points out that the new bill corrects a perceived inequality in the treatment of certain trades and professions: “We talk a lot in Belize about the need for meaningful and sustainable economic development. Achieving this requires a properly structured economy that protects and respects legitimate investments and generates fair and reasonable revenues for the government. We cannot have an economy in which 50% of participants follow the rules, register their businesses and pay license fees while the remaining 50% operate completely outside the formal economy while remaining in direct competition with the 50 first %. It is simply unsustainable and the country will not grow and develop. Like everything else in life, we need balance and fairness.

But, he adds, “As Minister of Culture, I can understand the concerns raised by artists/entertainers about the current fee structure given the current economic conditions. There seems to be a lot of misunderstanding about the proposed pricing structure and this will need to be clarified before proceeding. These concerns will be taken into account as we move forward with the bill. …I am confident that the bill will be reviewed to ensure that it is both fair and balanced. Let the bill go through the parliamentary process. As always, all interested parties and the general public are free to provide input to the relevant House committee for consideration.

The date of the meeting of the Civil Service, Labour, Commerce and Industry Commission will be announced in due course.


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