Mayor Bradley: “Trade License Act Needs to Change” Print E-mail
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Written by Shane D. Williams   
Thursday, 19 September 2013 00:00

Mayor Darrell BradleyMayor Darrel Bradley says that the Trade License Act is unfair and it needs to be amended. The Chamber of Commerce recently wrote to the Minister of Local Government, Senator Godwin Hulse, asking for him to guarantee that the Belize City Council will not raise trade license fees for the upcoming year. Mayor Bradley says that the Chamber needs to do a better job as an advocacy group in working with the council on behalf of its members. The Chamber had similar complaints last year and was encouraged to work with the Ministry of Local Government and the City Council to come up with a more acceptable trade license assessment system. Mayor Bradley says a year later “the chamber has not put forward any proposal to us.” He continues, “The only time we hear from them is around tax time, which is not a good time for us. It is after we have already made our assessments, printed the bills and issued them out that we here from central government that the chamber wants to meet.”

Bradley says, “As an advocacy group, the Chamber of Commerce should propose a system to us that they think is fair and will develop business in Belize City.” Like the Chamber, he too believes the Trade License Act needs to be amended but it is the business community that should lobby for change. He says, “They may need to approach Central Government to speak about amending the law because I do not have that power. That law needs to be changed and we can work together to establish a standard trade license system.”

The Trade License Act recommends the Council to charge businesses 25% of the rental value of their office space. It doesn’t take income into account and Mayor Bradley says it is unfair because some of the practices that earn great income require little operational space. He explains that a business like his law firm only requires two small rooms to be operational. Since the assessment is based on square footage, the trade license fees for such business is very small. On the other hand, for a carpenter, mechanic, welder (or any profession with heavy equipment that requires a lot of storage space) the trade license fee is much higher.

Mayor Bradley says, “We suggest a different type of tax system because we realize there is unfairness in that.” He says municipalities in other countries have a flat rate. The Council has established some 300 categories of businesses and is willing to meet with the Chamber to either establish a flat rate or a range of trade license fees for each category of businesses.