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#124135 - 06/23/06 03:21 AM Street Beautification Efforts
Marty Offline
A survey conducted by Brian and Stacey Lang revealed that less than ½ of the 60-odd palms originally planted by the Chamber remain on Front Street and the beach access alleys. As a result, ten new very tall palms were planted professionally on Front Street in an attempt to beautify the area. Unfortunately, one store did not like the palms near their storefront and demanded that they be removed.

Additionally, the wood for planter boxes for the bridge has been purchased, and Tom Vidrine has completed their construction. The boxes will be treated with sealer, and the dirt has arrived. The plan is currently to plant Bougainville in the boxes so it can climb on the bridge. Also, coconut palms, which are not allowed in town, will be planted at the entrance of the bridge. Judie Fisher graciously offered seedlings for the Flamboyant tree to be also planted in that area.

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#124136 - 06/23/06 03:24 AM Re: Street Beautification Efforts
Pedro1 Offline
In future it may be polite of the chamber to ask people who own and run businesses on front street if they want beautifying by a bunch of Americans-just a thought

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#124137 - 06/23/06 08:56 PM Re: Street Beautification Efforts
2MILESNORTHOFCUT Offline
Pedro, Has any of the front street businesses steped up to do the job? or should the chamber be happy that those "damn americans" AGAIN are trying to help with something. Why don't you as a local englishmen business runner give them a hand? If so please do it early in the morning because otherwise you might be too drun... well you know what i'm saying...-just a thought
_________________________
I want to be just like Capt Jeff when I grow up!

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#124138 - 06/23/06 10:05 PM Re: Street Beautification Efforts
deacon+ Offline
How about every bussiness on Front Street get a shovel and a bucket and every morning fix a couple pot holes. laugh

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#124139 - 06/23/06 11:12 PM Re: Street Beautification Efforts
Chris Offline
One of the problems that the A.C. Chamber of Commerce (ACCC) has is that (rightly or wrongly) it is perceived by most locals as being too Americanized. Another problem is that there is too much emphasis being placed by the ACCC on charitable stuff and not enough emphasis placed on empowering businesses as a group.

The prettification of Front Street might be being done with the best of hearts. Unfortunately it doesn't put the government in Belmopan under pressure to return some of the taxes that businesses pay in order that Ambergris Caye can build a proper infrastructure.

Chambers of Commerce should be powerful organizations capable of influencing governments for the betterment of business and the community. In my opinion the ACCC is far from acheiving that goal.

Of course it's easy to criticise without suggesting solutions so I'd better offer an idea or two.

1. Taxi drivers, a very important body of small businesspeople...offer each and every one free memebership of the ACCC. I think they'd like the roads paved! Bringing them together under the ACCC might just get them shouting at the tops of their voices at the government to do something about the roads. Taxi drivers can be a very potent political voice when they unite for a cause.

2. Make membership fees for the ACCC purely voluntary. I bet the ACCC would collect just as much money but would increase memberships.

3. The ACCC should have a charter which commits it to supporting the betterment of the business climate on Ambergris Caye as a whole. The business climate of Ambergris Caye can never be anything but difficult while we suffer with bad roads, insufficient schooling and an underpaid, underequipped police force.

I get the ACCC meeting minutes sent to me all the time. Here's the latest list of items tackled:

1) Ambergris Caye in Caribbean Travel & Life Magazine
2) Street Beautification Efforts
3) Mosquito Fogging for North Caye
4) Camera for Police
5) GST Forum
6) Jim Buoy Lights for Boat Traffic
7) First Responders Program
8) Jeff Pierce Attempting to Improve Road
9) Mortgages for US Citizens to Buy in Belize
10) New Community Rehabilitation Officer
11) US Ambassador to visit Ambergris Caye

(FYI "Jeff Pierce Attempting to Improve Road" is the case of a developer who is being put under pressure to fill the potholes outside his building project. It's nothing to do with proper paving of the roads).

All very decent and honourable things to think about but none of the above will get the government thinking in terms of investing a percentage of OUR taxes into our island infrastructure. And, without proper infrastructure businesses here will suffer and die.

I don't accept for one second that the government will never do anything to help Ambergris Caye, that we must just keep paying our taxes and let them (the Government) extend a middle finger to us. The sad fact is that as an island we have NEVER come together as one voice to collectively demand better from Belmopan. As long as Ambergris Caye is perceived by the Government to be nothing more than a cash cow with no voice we will get the short end of the stick.

Betterment for the island has to start with businesses and self-employed persons making their collective voices heard. The ACCC needs to do more to empower business owners to speak with one voice in order to demand the basics from Belmopan.

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#124140 - 06/24/06 12:12 AM Re: Street Beautification Efforts
Pedro1 Offline
Chris- I believe that you should have to have a business which pays taxes here on the island to be a member of the ACCC-I joined for two years and it has always appeared to me that the chamber just disperses money to curry political favour-I disagree there should be dues but they should be low and the meetings should not be held in expensive restaurants-possibly the Lions Club (just a suggestion)

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#124141 - 06/24/06 11:41 AM Re: Street Beautification Efforts
Ernie B Offline
Chris, I have removed my post as I now belive it was in error, Sorry.

Ernie
_________________________
Gun Control is Hitting Your Target.

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#124142 - 07/06/06 10:13 PM Re: Street Beautification Efforts
dolphin Offline
Sorry, I just had to address these statements. Chris’ main point is that we should do nothing to fix anything, but only somehow use our efforts to get people together to get the GOB to do what it should. That would take a revolution, and that is not what we are about.

HIS STATEMENT:
One of the problems that the A.C. Chamber of Commerce (ACCC) has is that (rightly or wrongly) it is perceived by most locals as being too Americanized.
ANSWER:
It is perceived as Americanized. This has been something we have been fighting since inception. We are 40% Belizean, 40% American, 20% British Commonwealth. Unfortunately Americans “seem” to be the ones that care enough to actually try to do something, and are always the volunteers. They are definitely the ones that are generous in funding projects. Belizeans do not usually attend meetings unless something is specifically affecting them or their wallets (just go to an open town board meeting).

HIS STATEMENT:
Another problem is that there is too much emphasis being placed by the ACCC on charitable stuff and not enough emphasis placed on empowering businesses as a group.
ANSWER:
Charitable efforts tend to be the ones that get “funded”. These projects create a feeling of accomplishment among Members, and are funded directly by their generosity, not Chamber dues. Would you rather they not be done?


HIS STATEMENT:
The prettification of Front Street might be being done with the best of hearts. Unfortunately it doesn't put the government in Belmopan under pressure to return some of the taxes that businesses pay in order that Ambergris Caye can build a proper infrastructure.
ANSWER:
Sadly one day the GOB will realize they cannot “milk” the Ambergris cow without at least feeding it once in a while. But if you think it will happen in your lifetime, I am hoping you plan to live a very long time. I will never see it. It in meantime the ambience of our island is what makes us attractive to the biggest source of income to our businesses, tourists and condo construction.

HIS STATEMENT:
Chambers of Commerce should be powerful organizations capable of influencing governments for the betterment of business and the community. In my opinion the ACCC is far from achieving that goal.
ANSWER:
The Chamber did pay a role in influencing the parties of our local election to address certain issues. Do you have any idea that it was the Chamber that got the paving of the road on the agenda, and that it would not exist today without us. Little do you know of the influence we had on getting the much higher quality of police, and getting a Magistrate assigned to our island. For better or for worse, the Chamber was very involved in the bridge’s existence. I agree that we have a long way to go, but I must say that for an organization in existence for five years, we have done extremely well, regardless if you agree with all of our efforts.

HIS STATEMENT:
Of course it's easy to criticize without suggesting solutions so I'd better offer an idea or two.

1. Taxi drivers, a very important body of small businesspeople...offer each and every one free membership of the ACCC. I think they'd like the roads paved! Bringing them together under the ACCC might just get them shouting at the tops of their voices at the government to do something about the roads. Taxi drivers can be a very potent political voice when they unite for a cause.

All local taxi associations and their drivers were given membership the first year of our existence. As was Saga, Lion’s Club, San Pedro Library, Tour Guide Association, and many others. The majority of the people against the roads had that position because it would allow the taxis to drive even faster.

2. Make membership fees for the ACCC purely voluntary. I bet the ACCC would collect just as much money but would increase memberships.

You have got to be kidding. How long have you lived here? It is tough to get people to pay a real bill, much less a voluntary one.
Membership is voluntary to a degree, and it is clear that we accept any amount people are willing to give. You and Pedro both get the minutes and you are not Members, but classified as Associates. So do hundreds of others. Just because people don’t pay, we do not leave them out.

3. The ACCC should have a charter which commits it to supporting the betterment of the business climate on Ambergris Caye as a whole. The business climate of Ambergris Caye can never be anything but difficult while we suffer with bad roads, insufficient schooling and an underpaid, under equipped police force.


ANSWER:
Re-read your own list below. We have been involved in the building of more classrooms, were key to getting an Officer appointed and assigned for the children of our island (that is what a Community Rehabilitation Officer is),have been fighting for more police pay and get them equipment. We helped fund the Safety Committee in their project to pay and get Constables trained working in San Pedro. Has anyone noticed how less crime has been happening?

Why doesn’t your list extend back to getting the roads paved. The building of classrooms, helping to provide computers for the Library, building them desks and paying for the wiring. Providing the police with computers, chairs, desks, printers, cameras, and even holsters for their guns. What about the old police barracks that we repaired? What about the new police barracks we got GOB to commit to putting in their budget for this year?

HIS STATEMENT:
I get the ACCC meeting minutes sent to me all the time. Here's the latest list of items tackled:

1) Ambergris Caye in Caribbean Travel & Life Magazine
2) Street Beautification Efforts
3) Mosquito Fogging for North Caye
4) Camera for Police
5) GST Forum
6) Jim Buoy Lights for Boat Traffic
7) First Responders Program
8) Jeff Pierce Attempting to Improve Road
9) Mortgages for US Citizens to Buy in Belize
10) New Community Rehabilitation Officer
11) US Ambassador to visit Ambergris Caye

All very decent and honorable things to think about but none of the above will get the government thinking in terms of investing a percentage of OUR taxes into our island infrastructure. And, without proper infrastructure businesses here will suffer and die. I don't accept for one second that the government will never do anything to help Ambergris Caye, that we must just keep paying our taxes and let them (the Government) extend a middle finger to us.

The sad fact is that as an island we have NEVER come together as one voice to collectively demand better from Belmopan. As long as Ambergris Caye is perceived by the Government to be nothing more than a cash cow with no voice we will get the short end of the stick. Betterment for the island has to start with businesses and self-employed persons making their collective voices heard. The ACCC needs to do more to empower business owners to speak with one voice in order to demand the basics from Belmopan.
ANSWER:
The statements above are so sadly accurate. What Chris fails to understand is that the businesses do not want to come together. Neither do the people. And the GOB really doesn’t give a damn unless it involves votes at election time.
Every issue we take on cost us members. Trying to provide public transportation for the school children caused Members to resign. Trying to pave the roads had others resign. The bridge was the worse; our Members were from the two extremes (and still are).

We are working with so many cultures, so many points of view, so many varying financial positions, and all in country dominated and controlled by its politicians and monopoly owners. How do we empower businesses when we cannot even get them to come together? The only thing that works in this country is money and votes.
Someone please donate a magic wand.......

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#124143 - 07/07/06 12:45 AM Re: Street Beautification Efforts
Chris Offline
Tom, I stand by everything I said in my post.

For example, to show how a "better business organization" can help businesses, promote development in Belize and even increase tax revenues for government, read on:

For the past few months the BARD (Belize Association of Realtors and Developers) has been working very hard to get stamp transfer taxes reduced on real estate sales. It looks like they have succeeded. It is possible that the new stamp tax rate will work out to just under 5% which would be a massive boost to investment in Belize. At the very most it'll be between 5% and 10% which is still a relief for investors. It's expected that the new rate will come into effect in August.

BARD did it by getting us realtors and developers together and looking to us for ideas and lobbying the powers that be in Belmopan with the best of those ideas. The impact of this huge tax reduction on real estate sales and development will be incredibly positive. There will be also be a very positive impact on government revenues and employment in the construction sector.

Even though I'm just a "little guy" when it comes to business I was able to find a route to the minister heading the Tax Reform Committee and was able to get my voice heard with regards to Stamp Transfer Tax. My suggestion was a 5% flat Stamp Transfer Tax, no discrimination between Belizeans and others. If a little guy like me can get my plaintive wailing heard why can't a Chamber of Commerce hoping to represent all businesses on our island be heard by government? Why do you accept that the government will never do anything for this island "in our lifetime."?

I've said it before, with our and our tourist's taxes we have paid many, MANY times over for basic services such as proper roads, a properly equipped and compensated police force and proper schooling for our kids. It is time for the government to deliver to Ambergris Caye what we have already paid for. The strange thing is, if they did that their tax revenues would actually INCREASE. Imagine what properly paved roads (with taxi-slowing-down speed bumps, of course) would do to investment on Ambergris Caye.

On a lighter note, imagine how nice rainy days would be if we didn't have to wade through muck every time it rained.

The Belize Chamber of Commerce is another organization that is listened to and respected by the powers that be in Belmopan. Between BARD and the BCC THAT'S where I'm going to place my support.

Perhaps the ACCC should closely align itself with the BCC. It'd be a quick and relatively painless way of giving businesses in San Pedro the teeth we need to get this government off of its "screw Ambergris Caye" high horse. Proof that the ACCC was closely aligned with the BCC and its policies and looking to the BCC for support would give me a reason to renew my subscription to the ACCC.

One more thing, I don't want to serve on any committees, I don't want to go to meetings. I'd be happy to pay my dues and let those who actually enjoy organizing things, meetings, lunches and all that stuff do all of that for me.

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