>HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES DEBATE GENERAL SALES TAX
Prime Minister Said Musa today presented the General Sales Tax Bill for its second reading in the House of Representatives.
Prime Minister Musa said the bill has been considered in some detail by the Finance and Economic Development Committee which heard the views and comments of several interested parties in particular the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Belize Agro Productive Sector Group and the Hotels Owners Association. In addition a team of technicians has held several public meeting in different parts of the country to explain the bill to the public and to listen to their views. The Committee has proposed certain amendments to the bill which have been accepted. Further to those proposed amendments the Prime Minister said he would be moving further amendments which relate to the issues such as the repeal of the entertainment tax and the stamp duty on receipts. The Prime Minister went on to mention the main features of the bill with the proposed amendments. The Prime Minister ended his presentation by saying the implementation of the General Sales Tax would be delayed.
> OPPOSITION MEMBERS ADDRESS SIMILARITIES BETWEEN GST AND VAT
During this morning's debate on the General Sales Tax, members of the Opposition spoke of the similarity between the proposed GST and the Value Added Tax. Leader of the Opposition Dean Barrow said the People's United Party Government made the change from VAT for no good reason.
Hon. Dean Barrow:
The indictment of this administration is that in fact it made the change from VAT to Sales Tax for no good reason other than it needed to complete the circle of its vicious propaganda. Though it is forced in terms of any objective assessment to concede that that was a horrible mistake. That would in fact cost the nation now because they have to come right back and re-implement the VAT but all the modalities, all the administrative arrangements, all their accounting arrangements have to be changed once again leading to the dislocation and the disruption that's inevitable when that kind of change occurs.
Barrow said the legislation for both taxes is similar.
Hon. Dean Barrow:
If you go back and you look at the VAT legislation, the UDP VAT legislation basically all these people have done is to replace VAT, the acronym, with GST. In terms of the system, you look at the legislation Madam Speaker, it is the same legislation. There a little differences in details, as my friend has pointed out, important differences because for example they have been committed and now agreed to move things from the zero-rated category to the exempt category with a resulting burden to the consumer in terms of the structure, in terms of the categories and in terms of the classification. This legislation exactly mirrors the Value Added Tax Act that was passed by the United Democratic Party.