President of the Maya Leaders Alliance on Rosewood extraction

Today we bring you the last in a series of stories we've aired recently with City of Belmopan Mayor Simeon Lopez. As the population within the City of Belmopan grows there are normal concerns that arise with such growth. Plus news has been receiving information concerning the number of Bars that have popped up in the city. We have not been able to confirm, but reports have complaints have also reached us that some of the newer are not only providing alcoholic beverages but "female entertainment" when requested.

Jesse Mendoza, PlusTV Journalist
A lot of these bars are being used as prostitution joints, in the sense that you can walk into these bars, you can get a drink and you can also get a woman. Is the council aware of this?

Simeon Lopez, Mayor, Belmopan City
Well that is illegal and the approval for bars comes with the recommendations of the Police. So if prostitution is happening, that is an illegal activity and that is for us to take up with the Police and find out why they are not raiding or find out what is happening. However, no bars are, well from what I know, through the Chairman of the Liquor Licensing Board. On that board there are members from the Police, from the Department of the Environment, the Ministry of Health and the Fire Department, so if that is happening, we don't know, but the recommendation comes with a Police recommendation and if the Police objects to any location or anyone getting a liquor license, then as far as I know, the board rejects that application.

At least three inspections are conducted yearly at establishments that have been granted a liquor license. We asked the Mayor if the council plans to investigate the accusations of prostitution at some of the bars.

Simeon Lopez
It's not that the Liquor Licensing Board is just giving out licenses like that; we have our partners that we work with and prostitution is an illegal activity in Belize, as far as I know.

Jesse Mendoza
Will the council be raising this as a concern to the Police Department here in Belmopan?

Simeon Lopez
Well, since you have brought it up, off course we will find out if that is so and if they know any establishments that are conducting such activities, but I don't know which establishment is doing that.

Another concern that has come to our attention is the Trade License for businesses in Belmopan. According to a number of business persons, their Trade Licensing fee for the upcoming year has almost doubled. We asked the Mayor if there's any truth to this.

Simeon Lopez
There is no truth to that; for all businesses, the trade licensing is calculated on the rental value of the premise; for example, lets say that it is for a supermarket, the trade license value is placed let's say at 5% of the rental value and that hasn't changed. The only way trade licensing will increase is if the premise has been enlarged and the rental value has gone up; for instance if there is an extension to the building, then the rental value will go up, but the percentage will remain the same.

Beside those concerns, the Mayor says they have some concerns of their own with the residents of Belmopan regarding the picking up of garbage. He tells us more.

Simeon Lopez
Picking up time for debris is from the 15th to 18th of every month when our contractors go out to pick up the limbs and leaves and so on. So if they can keep those in their yards or somewhere, until the 13th and put them out on the street side, then our collectors will pick them up on the 15th to the 18th or maybe up to the 20th, depending on how much they have to pick up. We are experiencing problems however, sometimes as the truck passes, the next day limbs and so are on at on the street side and those won't be picked up until another month. Sometimes our trucks will pass and pick them up, but that is mainly the job of the contractors. We have three contractors that go around Belmopan doing that. So please corporate with us to put your garbage out just before the 15th and we will pick it up beginning from the 15th to the 18th or maybe even the 20th of each month.

Again the picking up of debris is done after the 15th of every month and the Mayor encourages residents to co-operate with them in placing those items in front of their yard around that time.