Can't say the population didn't have any choice in the last election? The majority elected Said Musa, party leader and the Peoples United Party to run the Government. They the PUP, ran up $1.4 billion in borrowings on top of a $600 million debt inherited from the previous UDP, to gain about $40 million in extra government revenues in 2002 this month's annual budget speech said. With estimated interest on the PUP borrowings boosting payback of $3.4 billion for the loans if the country had the money, on an economy that can only sustain about $72 million in debt, the country of Belize under the PUP mis-management is in serious trouble.
Cynics have for two years been forecasting that the penalties for this excessive borrowing will eventually arrive on the door step of the small business person in Belize. It seems that the Sales Tax Department people are the avenue of choice for further extortion, done by legal means under the PUP Cabinet setup instructions.
Sales tax can be ASSESSED! Even if you are closed and not in business for any particular seasonal time. Which they are now doing nationwide by sending out assessments. The bitter end of the stick though is the INTEREST RATE. While 5% a day penalties doesn't sound like much, that can turn into 1,825%, or ONE THOUSAND, EIGHT HUNDRED AND TWENTY FIVE PERCENT a year INTEREST debt on top of an ASSESSMENT. Now that is really criminal! The famous MAFIA families of the USA city of NEW YORK fame need to take lessons from the Peoples United Party of Belize.
The trouble is, that; most small business are in rural districts, or areas not easily accessible to population centers and government services without a huge amount of lost time and days of travel and argument and bureaucratic paper work. Complicated by due dates and limited times to argue your case and be recognized legally. The government offices are not where the small business are in Belize. They are mostly in District towns. And mostly in just one town, the rapacious port of Belize City. For most people to take the time to argue their assessed tax cases and travel to this place to argue is prohibitively expensive. If you make $15 a day clear profit, it can cost you a $100 a day and more to travel to a government office to even ask why they are extorting from you with ridiculous fabulous sums of money for their assessments in the thousands of dollars.
The PUP DEBT is obviously going to force small Belizean business people out of business. We can argue that the Sales Tax bureaucrats are irresponsible, but I think it comes back to the forecasts of the cynics. They said that this would happen. Indeed the cynics said it HAD TO HAPPEN! How else would an economy around $380 million a year be able to pay the PUP Cabinet's borrowings of $1.34 billion, which even if it could be paid would need about $3.45 billion to pay off if you include the loan interest?
In vulgar language the day was forecast by cynics that one day the SHIT WOULD HIT THE FAN in Belize and the people would have to pay for their elected PUP government borrowing. This month of January, 2003 seems to be that month, it has started. But this government was elected by a majority and Belizeans have nobody to blame but themselves! Go out of business, or lose them to the tax man along with your homes.