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#9417 - 10/10/00 05:25 AM DUTIES, a discussion
Marty Offline
I wish the best of luck to those trying to get relief on duty for goods
donated for hurricane relief. Anything that can benefit Belizeans after the
storm I'm in favor of.


I would just say, though, that import duties are the #1 source of income for
the government of Belize, providing more revenue than income taxes. I think
it is unlikely that the government is going to stop collecting its primary
source of income for six months. Or even six weeks. I agree that it's not
the best way to fund a government, but it's the way it's done.


That's like asking the U.S. and state governments to stop collecting income
taxes from residents in areas of the U.S. hit by a hurricane. It will never
happen. For example, the state where I live, North Carolina, had six
BILLION
dollars in hurricane damage last year, and state residents got zero tax
relief (beyond standard deductions for casualty losses.) The government
allocated some funds for hurricane relief, but they didn't do anything to
change the tax codes.


Ideally, there would be some way to provide for "spot" elimination of duties
on items specifically imported for hurricane relief and rebuilding. The
problem is how do you do that? A lot of people bringing in vehicles, boats,
building supplies, food, etc. are going to claim they are replacing what
they
lost in the storm. Who determines what is legit and what is not? Should a
big store in Belize City get duty free import of retail inventory claimed
damaged as a result of the storm? If someone lost a 1965 Ford truck should
they be allowed to bring in a 2000 Ford Truck to replace it? If a 500 sq.
ft. house was destroyed by the storm can you bring in supplies sufficient to
build a 1,000 sq. ft. house? Does a guy down in PG get to bring in stuff
duty free even though there was little or no damage in PG? Does the family
with insurance get the same duty-free tax break as the family without
insurance? Is there no limit to how much can be imported -- do Bowen &
Bowen
and BTL get to import millions of dollars in duty-free materials to bring
their equipment back up to perfect condition?


Who and what gets duty-free, and who and what doesn't?


It's a sticky wicket and not as clear as it might seem on the surface.


But good luck.


--Lan Sluder

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#9418 - 10/10/00 05:26 AM Re: DUTIES, a discussion
Marty Offline
Lan, those are good points. I am sure that a system can be set up to
resolve this in a way that works, though of course not perfectly (what works
perfectly in this world???)


1. DONATED ITEMS: NONE of the relief shipments now being sent should be
subject to duty. The things that are now being sent are all "emergency"
items being DONATED. There is paperwork to show that they are being DONATED
by private citizens to the TOWN BOARDS of Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker.
DONATED items sent to PUBLIC ENTITIES or CHARITIES should not be subject to
duty. That is an easy group to separate, by requiring paperwork showing the
SENDER and the RECIPIENT. That should continue to be the case anything that
is DONATED. To avoid fraud and abuse, you limit this to recipients of a
charitable and govenmental nature, not "person to person" donations.


2. CONSTRUCTION MATERIALS PURCHASED COMMERCIALLY AND NOT DONATED: Local
entities should establish a quick way for people whose homes or businesses
have been damaged or destroyed to file a statement to that effect and simply
state their address. Enough photos have been taken (and more can be easily
taken) to corroborate damage. These people should be able to receive an
immediate rebate on their purchase, and the merchant can file claims to
collect these rebates. To the extent that requires paperwork and delay, a
reasonable (and small) percentage of the rebate could be returned to the
merchant to pay costs. This kind of thing is done all over the world when
tourists go shopping. These are small islands and everybody knows
everybody and it will be hard to get awaywith claiming your home was damaged
if it wasn't. It's right there in front of your eyes.


3. VEHICLES: The Ford truck situation is not really applicable to the
Cayes. Not many land vehicles there, enough to be able to easily document.
And certainly, duties can be apportioned if the person who lost something is
upgrading, the duty can be paid on the difference. Not rocket science.
This would be applicable primarily on themainland, but again, I have not
heard of thousands of cars being damaged.


4. BOATS: That will be easy to track, see paragraphs 2 and 3 above. It's
mostly the island operators who lost boats and the town board can easily
track who they are and document it. Here again, you can pro-rate the duty
if someone is upgrading. PARTS for damaged boats should be duty free since
they are clearly caused by the hurricane damage.


5. FURNITURE: See paragraph 2.


Susan Guberman-Garcia, Attorney at Law.

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#9419 - 10/10/00 05:59 AM Re: DUTIES, a discussion
Laguna Punta Offline
Disasters can be very tedious.
_________________________
Gone fishing!!

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#9420 - 10/10/00 01:46 PM Re: DUTIES, a discussion
TONY P Offline
It is nice to see the discussion being carried out in such a civil manner. My two cents... While I realize that taxes and duties were not suspended in the Carolina's cases, I don't believe that the Red Cross or other relief agencies were required to pay any kind of duties on their emergency relief. The posters of this board seem to be filling the vacuum left by the lack of "organized" relief agencies, and has moved at the speed of the internet, which is far faster than most agencies are able to respond. This is certainly not intended to be a cheap shot at the Red Cross and their ilk, but just an observation that a leaner, less structured grass root movement can move faster than one ladened with bureaucratic red tape, as evidenced by what has taken place in such a short span of time by the fair people who are populating this board. A hearty thanks to all who have participated, and to Marty for being a chief to all of us indians...

Tony P
_________________________
Tony P

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