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Belize Budget Looks To Indirect Taxes To Boost Revenues

Monday, March 20, 2017

Belize has rejected International Monetary Fund (IMF) recommendations to raise taxes across the board in favor of more selective reforms that it says will be less punitive to the country's businesses and poorest citizens.

In his budget speech the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance and Natural Resources, Dean Barrow, rejected the IMF's "publicly rehearsed" advice to raise general sales tax (GST), ditch zero-rated treatment for certain products, cancel exemptions, and increase personal and business income taxes as "regressive and punitive to both citizens and enterprise."

He instead announced a series of "pro-poor and pro-people" reforms, which he said would increase revenues by 2.2 percent of GDP. These include a 10 percent income tax on statutory boards of "quasi government entities;" increasing the excise levy on aerated water, beer and stout, cement, and fuel; increasing the environmental charge on imported goods by one percent; and raising stamp duty on foreign exchange permits by 0.5 percent.