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Dear Prime Minister,

We write on behalf of our members of the Belize Cable Television Operators Association.

With regards to your recent budget speech on the application of GST on Internet.

We are hereby requesting your reconsideration of this proposed increase. The application of GST on this technology would affect the most under privileged in our society, the most remote residents and businesses in our country, the young entrepreneurs needing to communicate with the international market, students research and studies, farmers in remote areas connectivity and the family communications.

The ability to afford Internet provides many advantages and opportunity for the abundant of information resources, inexhaustible education, social networking and staying connected.

This increase of IT to the people of Belize would adversely affect our country's and business development by effectively Increasing the cost of communication; the cost of on-line banking; the cost of accessing on-fine degrees; the cost of on-fine training and access to seminars; the cost of research; the cost of telecommunkatIng and ultimately the cost of doing business placing Belize at a disadvantage to other regional developing countries.

The Cable Industry has made great strides in trying to lower the cost of internet to our subscribers and this tax on data completely wipes out the benefits to our Consumers.

We ask again that you reconsider and zero-rate the home Internet now provided to consumers.

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Cable Operators Plead For No GST on Data

In a few days when the new fiscal year starts, your internet bill will probably be going up. Whether you buy two dollars mobile data from your corner store - that is now expected to be $2.25, or if you buy one of those slick, high speed Diginet packages at home, for, say, 20 megs: instead of $179.00 monthly, that is now expected to be $201.00 dollars monthly.

The pricing hasn't been finalized yet, and those figures are projections, but either the price, or the amount of data you get for it has to change because - for the first time - GST will now be applied to internet and data sales.

And, the Cable Television Operators Association is pleading with the government to reconsider imposing a GST charge on internet data.

The Association wrote to the Prime Minister a week ago saying, quote, "The application of GST on this technology will affect the most underprivileged in our society, the most remote residents and businesses in our country, the young entrepreneurs needing to communicate with the international market, students' research and studies, and family communications." End quote.

It continues by arguing that the imposition of the tax would effectively increase the cost of communication, online banking, access to online education, and the cost of doing business.

So the association and the wider public are hoping that government has a change of heart like it did last week with the pullback of the GST on land preparation for agriculture.

But with only four days to go before the implementation of the new tax - and the budget debate done - we're fairly certain that the government is pretty locked in on this one. It hopes to raise about 6 million dollars in much needed revenue through this measure. Government says it has lost just about that amount in decreased tax revenue from voice calls.

Channel 7