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Belizean PM Presents Revised Budget

by Robert Lee,, London

11 December 2001

Recent disasters in Belize such as last year's Hurricane Keith, the tropical storm Chantal of four months ago and Hurricane Iris in October have wrought havoc for Belize and, compounded with the impact of the terrorist attacks in the US has forced Prime Minister Said Musa to present a revised budget for the remainder of fiscal year 2001-2002 to the House of Representatives.

In his presentation, Friday of last week, PM Musa said the Budget aimed to 'recover and rebuild after the economic and social shocks we have endured. The changed circumstances and the new realities confronting us required us to carry out a thorough and comprehensive analysis of revenue flows and to realign our expenditure priorities.'

The revised budget is for BZE$372 Million, with proposed expenditure of $350.2 Million, producing a recurrent surplus of BZE$21.8 Million. This, according to the Prime Minister, is close to the original budget surplus forecast in February 2001.

Musa stressed that the revised budget ensures that there will be no retrenchment and no increase in taxes. Steps to increase revenue collection efficiency include:

  • The discretionary power of Ministers to waive duties and taxes will be restricted to charities, religious organizations, and educational institutions.
  • Development concessions will no longer include exemptions from company tax, sales tax, or environmental tax.
  • New Free Zone regulations will be implemented to assist foreign currency control and improve collections of social fees, taxes, freight and utility bills in the Zone that are now committed to be paid in US dollars. Free Zone vehicles will now be required to pay Revenue Replacement Duty.
  • The Ministry of Natural Resources will implement specific initiatives to encourage landowners to pay their taxes and to facilitate the conversion of leases on developed property to freehold titles.

The Prime Minister concluded: 'We are moving towards a $2 billion economy over the next three years (we are close to $1.7 billion). By keeping inflation low and tightly controlling public finances, Belize will have a much stronger production and revenue base to finance our development programmes.'

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