Government went to the house today to amend a sales tax law - after a costly CCJ judgement. That judgement found in favor of Cruise Solutions, that tour services to cruise lines should be considered zero rated supplies. Now, millions of dollars in tax have already been paid for those services - and, with this judgement, all who have paid would be entitled for a refund from the GST office.
That's why government went to the house to try and retroactively cure the law:...
Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow- PM
"So, according to them the tax that all these operators had been paying all these years was being invalidly collected because their interpretation, by the president, their interpretation of the law was that, as it stood, these people needed to be treated as zero rated. Apart from the successful appellant, every tour operator who had ever paid GST under the then regime, which we all thought was legal, is coming calling upon the GST department for a refund. We are talking about millions and millions and millions of dollars. We had our lawyers research this thing properly and saw where, it is not the first time it has happened, I'm not saying in Belize, elsewhere, and the courts have held that in those circumstances the government is perfectly entitled to pass a law retrospectively curing the mischief and thus wiping out the chance of these people getting refunds. As the court says, man you can't say that it is a new tax being imposed. You all paid it and, except for one person, paid it happily. Those tax dollars were used to help the industry, to build roads, to deliver the services of government. You cannot leave the government and the state in a position where it will be so horribly prejudiced and have its finances so completely destabilized."
Hon. Cordel Hyde- PUP Senior Deputy
"I think as a principle we are entering uncharted territory when, as a government, you bring legislation to upend or side-step a ruling from the highest court in all the land. I think we recognize this thing called supremacy of parliament but that is a power that you should use guardedly."