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#257928 - 11/28/07 05:55 PM SPBA meeting Dean Barrow
Portofino Offline
There will be a meeting for SPBA members with opposition (UDP) leader Dean Barrow tomorrow (Thursday November 29) 2:00 pm at Banana Beach. We want to underline that the meeting will be for members ONLY this time.

This is a pre-release because of the short notice; official invitition will follow later today.

Jan van Noord - Member SPBA

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#257954 - 11/28/07 09:28 PM Re: SPBA meeting Dean Barrow [Re: Portofino]
Portofino Offline
This is the complete and official invitation:

Originally Posted By: SPBA
The Leader of the Opposition and Leader of the UDP Party, Dean Barrow has requested a meeting with the San Pedro Business Association. We would like all members be present at Banana Beach Resort at 2:00 pm tomorrow (Thursday November 29th, 2007).

This meeting is for SPBA members only - please do not bring Non-Members.

For those of you that have not had a chance to join the SPBA, you may join prior to the meeting by paying the membership fee (please make cheques payable to San Pedro Business Association). If you intend to join prior to the meeting, please arrive earlier than the meeting start time. Keep in mind that members of the SPBA must be business concerns operating on Ambergris Caye, that pay Business Taxes.

We apologize for the short notice, but the meeting was only just confirmed an hour ago. We look forward to seeing you all there.

If you have any questions, please contact us by phone at: 226-4474 or email: info@sanpedrobusiness.com

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#258577 - 12/04/07 01:36 AM Re: SPBA meeting Dean Barrow [Re: Portofino]
Portofino Offline
I am surprised nobody asked for the transcript of the meeting yet - I am known to be a lazy bastard, but I have been walking around with notes from the meeting that I can still easily convert into a transcript... all you gotta do is ask me.
Jan

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#258579 - 12/04/07 01:41 AM Re: SPBA meeting Dean Barrow [Re: Portofino]
Ernie B Offline
Im ASKIN !!!!!
_________________________
Gun Control is Hitting Your Target.

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#258592 - 12/04/07 03:07 AM Re: SPBA meeting Dean Barrow [Re: Portofino]
bywarren Offline
How about some "asskicking" wink

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#258593 - 12/04/07 03:23 AM Re: SPBA meeting Dean Barrow [Re: bywarren]
Ernie B Offline
SEMPER FI, BY !
_________________________
Gun Control is Hitting Your Target.

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#258819 - 12/06/07 04:26 PM Re: SPBA meeting Dean Barrow [Re: Portofino]
TacoBoy Offline
I'm working on a detailed transcript... should be done soon.

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#258896 - 12/07/07 04:59 AM Re: SPBA meeting Dean Barrow [Re: Ernie B]
Portofino Offline
I am ashamed I still didn't post my summary on the meeting. The newspapers have the scoop this time, and I will make some additions to subjects from my notes by tomorrow. Here are the articles.
Jan

Originally Posted By: San Pedro Sun
Honorable Dean Barrow meets SPBA

Leader of the Opposition Dean Barrow met with the community’s private and business sector - the San Pedro Business Association (SPBA) - last Thursday afternoon at Banana Beach’s El Divino Restaurant. Present at the head table were Honorable Barrow, Mayor of San Pedro Town Elsa Paz, Area Representative Manuel Heredia Jr., President of the San Pedro Business Association Elito Arceo and Board member of the San Pedro Business Association Andre Perez.


(L-R) Hon. Dean Barrow, Hon. Manuel Heredia and Andre Perez.

After brief introductions, Honorable Barrow began his opening remarks. Within his remarks he outlined briefly the changes that the opposition party plans on partaking if elected into Central Government. “Corruption is economic and it retards development,” he expressed. He continued in explaining that there are two policy areas where he would like to effect change. 1) Tax – Taxation, according to Honorable Barrow, has to be reviewed; the entire tax structure has to be taken a closer look at. In reviewing the tax structure, Honorable Barrow plans on broadening the range of goods that can be exempt from General Sales Tax. 2) With oil being discovered in the country of Belize, Honorable Barrow’s future plans includes finding a way in which this new industry can benefit the Belizean populace. “A refinery will be set up. This will allow for the production of lead gasoline as well as fuel,” he explained.

However, Honorable Barrow had other items on the agenda, items that drastically affect the livelihood of San Pedro residents. Law and order, crime and violence, these need to be eliminated from Belize’s premier destination, that, he said, “is a no brainer.” With San Pedro having big investors who have invested a lot to have their own piece of paradise, Honorable Barrow plans on having faster convictions for some offenses. For those instances when the victim is a visitor to the country or island, and the person is unable to attend court for trial purpose, then a court disposition will be admissible during the trail. “If the victim accuses the culprit prior to leaving or makes a statement prior to departing, we want to have something in place that will allow those statements the validity they deserve in court,” he explained. Thirdly, offenses such as, robbery, assault, or any crime of a violent nature, will be made into non-bailable offenses. Other areas within the law that will be remedied also include, border patrols between Belize and Mexico in the area of Bacalar Chico Marine Reserve, increasing the years when a convict may be eligible for parole, stricter sentences and developing a more focused and targeted Youth Development Program.

Honorable Barrow insists, however, that in order to keep law and order within our community, preventative measures need to be taken, too. “Additional resources need to be provided,” he stated. He explained that the local charter should be allowed more autonomy which will allow the San Pedro Town Council to fund its own town security force. Until that can happen, Honorable Barrow vouched that the United Democratic Party will assist local government in any way possible to minimize the crime incidences in the community. Allowing local government more autonomy will also mean a closer look at the revenue coming through the San Pedro Town Council’s office. Secretary of the San Pedro Business Association Rebecca Arceo, commented on the Association’s hope that a percentage of business taxes paid by San Pedro residents remain on the island for the town’s use. Honorable Barrow explained that San Pedro Town is currently receiving $69,000 a year as subvention. Mayor Paz commented that other towns receive more; one as much as $600,000 a year. However, according to Paz the reason San Pedro receives that minimal amount is because Property Taxes collected remain on the island and San Pedro is the highest earner of these taxes. Along with liquor and trade licenses San Pedro should be receiving approximately $3.2 million a year, however, close to 60% of property taxes remain in arrears, while 22.5% of trade license have not been paid. Honorable Barrow’s solution would be to hand over government revenue generated agencies, such as the transport department, to local authority.

Comments from the floor included the call for more money returning to San Pedro. Karen Canul, owner of Ambergris Divers, commented, “San Pedro is the cow that the entire country is milking to dehydration. If the cow does not continue being feed it can no longer produce milk. We are in dire need. San Pedro can be considered to be in an emergency situation,” she clamored. Other areas of concern included traffic, dredging and development. Honorable Barrow ended by expressing his sincere interest in continuing to work with the San Pedro Business Association to find ways to remedy some of the island’s biggest concerns.

http://www.sanpedrosun.net/07-473.html


Originally Posted By: Ambergris Today
Opposition Leader Visits Island


The leader of the opposition, Hon. Dean Barrow met with the San Pedro Business Association of Thursday, November 29 at El Divino Restaurant. Present at the meeting were members of the San Pedro Business Association and heading the meeting were, Elito Arceo, Andre Perez, Hon. Dena Barrow, Hon. Manuel Heredia and Mayor Paz.

The meeting commenced with Honorable Dean Barrow stating that if he wins the up coming elections he would target three main areas which would be tax, oil and law & order. Hon. Barrow mentioned that they would review the entire tax process and broaden the area of goods that can be exempt of General Sales Tax.

As to the oil problem in the country he stated that they would do the best they can to decrease the price of oil so that the people of Belize can benefit from the industry. They also plan on financing, if not partially owning or completely owning a refinery in the country where leaded gasoline and diesel can be manufactured in Belize and hence be purchased at a lower price by the consumers.

Hon. Barrow expressed that he would want to place a special policing area on the island, regardless of the cost, to ensure safety to the tourists and island residents. He would also work to ensure that prosecutions are done in a more efficient way and with proper legislation.

According to Hon. Barrow, under the new UDP Government a strong police presence will be a must. After having expressed his view and plans for the island the floor was opened for questions and comments which were answered by himself and Mayor Elsa Paz.

One problem that was addressed was the fact that there are too many gang members in the island that are vandalizing property, stealing, loitering around and simply being a nuisance in the island. Hon. Barrow mentioned that this situation can be addressed since there is a program in effect called Conscious Youth Development Program, which can help the youth get out of trouble and offers them job opportunities.

Another major issue discussed was the continuation of the street rehabilitation project. Members were concerned whether the street project would continue to be financed under a new government, whereas Mayor Paz assured the members of the SPBA that the San Pedro Town Council will continue to lobby the government for the continuation of road fixtures.

But the major question asked by most members was if San Pedro could receive a higher percentage of money from what the island is generating. But Hon. Barrow made it clear that he could not, even if he wanted to, raise the subvention given to San Pedro. Most residents believe that raising the subvention to San Pedro should be considered as the island generates so much money for this country; most of the time this statement fall on deaf ears.

“I cannot sit here and commit myself by telling you that you will receive an increase in you subvention because it is not going to happen,” stated Hon. Dean Barrow. “The National Budget is pre-planned and it would not be constitutionally and legislatively right, but there are other ways which we can work out to have some money stay in the island.”

According to Mayor Paz San Pedro receives the lowest subvention in the entire country of Belize. San Pedro only receives $69,000 yearly when Belmopan who has the same population as San Pedro receives a subvention of $600,000 and Corozal receives $450,000. Mayor Paz also noted that the Mayor’s Association had proposed to the government for an increase of subvention but the government refused for an increase.

The meeting ended with Hon. Dean Barrow assuring the members of the San Pedro Business Association that if he is elected Prime Minister of Belize he will make sure that most of the resources stay in San Pedro.

http://www.ambergriscayenews.com/html/archives.php?p=120607#_st4

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#259047 - 12/08/07 04:23 AM Re: SPBA meeting Dean Barrow [Re: Portofino]
Ernie B Offline
Thanks for the report !
_________________________
Gun Control is Hitting Your Target.

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#259328 - 12/11/07 02:39 AM Re: SPBA meeting Dean Barrow [Re: Ernie B]
Portofino Offline
It took a while, but I think you'll appreciate the summary I made from my notes - it is not in chronological order, but grouped by subject.

Oil:
Honorable Dean Barrow has a plan to make the Belizeans profit from the oil that we produce, by mixing local fuel with imported fuel and thus lowering the fuel prices for the domestic market.

Andre Perez made a remark, saying that countries that produce oil easily forget other sources of income, and thus become dependent on oil income. Honorable Dean Barrow assured him that that would not happen to Belize, as sectors like Tourism and Sugarcane are too important for the Belizean economy, to loose focus of them.

Security:
The security plan that Honorable Dean Barrow wants to implement for Belize has 3 spearheads: Faster prosecuting of crimes and more severe punishing, more police on the streets and an undercover police force that will infiltrate in the society and prevent crime.

Gene Lopez from LAG security proposed for repeat offenders a similar system as is utilized in the United States, where a criminal get 3 chances; “Three Strikes and you are out” is the name of it, and a similar system lays in the line of thinking of Honorable Barrow. Diane Campbell underlined that the focus should be on eliminating gangs which point was also well taken by Honorable Barrow.

Corruption:
Another UDP policy will be to fight corruption, and make right what has been done wrong by the present government.

Jan van Noord asked what the policy would be to prevent corruption in the future government, as according to Jan power will make people corrupt by definition. Honorable Dean Barrow answered that he would monitor that personally with some of trustees in his party.

Taxes:

In the opening speech Honorable Dean Barrow underlined that one of the main policies of the UDP will be to lower taxes, especially by increasing the number of goods that are GST exempt.

Obviously with a large number of hoteliers the issue of being zero-rated for hotels in stead of exempt came up, so the hotels can deduct GST charged to them (now Hotels get double-taxed; Hotel Tax and GST on acquired goods, without the possibility of deducting tax on purchased items). Honorable Barrow agreed with this point, even entitling the present Government policy as "possibly unconstitutional".

Roads:
Peter Lawrence asked the same question he asked to Hon Said Musa, to pledge another 4 million dollars for the roads in 2008, but Honorable Barrow could only promise that he would continue the current Government program that is in execution at this moment.

Ambergris Caye status:
Honorable Dean Barrow supported the idea of Ambergris Caye becoming the 7th district (I am again sorry for missing that point in the earlier - for me - remote discussion).

Rebecca Arceo raised the important SPBA issue of keeping 60% of all Business Tax (not Income – General Sales- or Hotel Tax) on the Island, but unfortunately Honorable Barrow answered that that was out of the question and might even be unconstitutional.

North Development:
Elito Arceo stressed that we are running out of land here in San pedro, and the Northern part should be offered to San Pedro businesses and residents in stead of offering it to foreign investors. In an emotional plea, he mentioned that we do not have space for schools, roads, and even to bury our death. Honorable Barrow agreed with this point of view, but was not sure on whether he would be able to reverse deals done by the present government.

Pam Killen asked if a UDP Government would enforce Nature Reserves, more explicitly, on preventing development that would conflict with the present status for the Northern part of Ambergris Caye as a nature reserve. Honorable Barrow agreed with her point of view, but could not guarantee to continue such policy forever.

In conclusion I think, we learned a lot from each other, and I hope it was not the last meeting of Honorable Dean Barrow with the SPBA before the elections.

Jan

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