The hostilities between the Michael Ashcroft business empire and the government of Belize continue to rage in court, but now government is one-upping the British billionaire, by taking its fight to the legislature.
7NEWS has been reliably informed by sources in the Ministry of Finance that government plans to introduce legislation to increase the business tax on phone companies from 19% to something in the vicinity of 25%. Sources tell us that the final figure is still being discussed by government’s decision makers, but it will be around that number. That’s 25% of gross earnings and would represent an increase of about $10 million in the tax that Telemedia has to pay annually.
And if that wasn’t enough to rankle Ashcroft, sources also tell us that government plans to increase the tax on public investment companies – which is a special type of international business company. Special because it gives lavish tax concessions to companies which have that status. And Ashcroft’s PIC, which is believed to be the corporate cocoon for the Belize Bank and other related operations are presently taxed at 8%. Government also plans to increase that tax, possibly to bring it in line with or close to the 15% which other banks pay.
And while the decision has been made, the legislation which, as we said is still being finalized, goes to the National Assembly sometime in November. We note that it would not just be for BTL and the Belize Bank, but also for all other banks which have PIC status – that includes the Atlantic Bank, and for the business tax, all telecommunication companies.
It is a decisive and aggressive move by government, and as the days ahead will tell, Lord Ashcroft is expected to react in kind.www.7newsbelize.com