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Marty Offline OP
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City of Belmopan, August 3, 2021. The Government of Belize, through the Office of the Prime Minister, is holding a press conference to announce the upcoming first of its kind Belize Investment Summit 2021 (BIS 2021). This summit is a part of the Prime Minister's commitment to prioritize the country's economic recovery by attracting investments for the economic development of Belize.

The Summit, under the theme "Belize: Open for Business" is scheduled to take place on November 3 & 4, 2021 virtually and at Grand Caribe Hotel, San Pedro Town. Featured during the summit will be a keynote address by the Prime Minister of Belize highlighting the government's vision on strategic investments, policy changes, processes and procedures to improve the ease doing business in Belize. Furthermore, the Summit will connect participants with key clients and highlight prospects via presentations from other high-profile international experts, public officials, policy makers and enterprise who shape the investment climate in Belize. This will be complemented by an Expo exhibition that will feature:

� information on Belize's priority sectors by key ministries,
� presentations on how to invest in Belize, and
� a matchmaking session that offers the opportunity for robust connection across investment stakeholders both in the public and private sectors.

The Government of Belize remains committed to our mandate of promoting Belize as an investment destination, with a plethora of opportunities.

The media is cordially invited to the official launch of the Belize Investment Summit, scheduled for 10 AM on Thursday, August 19, 2021, at the Best Western Belize Biltmore Plaza Hotel in Belize City.

Joined: Oct 1999
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Marty Offline OP
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Changing The Temperature Of Investment Climate

The Briceno Administration is now in its 9th month in office, and for the majority of that time, they've had to focus on putting out a number of fires in government - including COVID and the economic crash.

Tonight, the government is reporting that they want to implement some of their governance plans to increase foreign direct investment. If you're an avid news watcher, you'll remember that quite a few times, while they were in Opposition, the PUP was critical of the former Barrow Government for failing to reverse the deterioration of the investment climate in Belize.

And so, the Government is launching the first of its kind Belize Investment Summit 2021. It is a part of the Prime Minister's promise to prioritize the country's economic recovery by attracting investment. The Summit was unveiled publicly today for the first time, and 7News was at the launch event. Daniel Ortiz has that story:

The Briceno Government has unveiled a new initiative that they hope will significantly boost interest from foreign investors with deep pockets.

It's called the Belize Investment Summit, 2021, and it will be held under the theme, "Belize: Open for Business".

Narda Garcia - CEO, Office of Prime Minister <
"The summit is an initiative of Prime Minister Briceno, as the Minister of Investment, as a stimulus to economic growth and recovery. The summit is one of the boldest and swiftest moves that this government has made to help spur local and foreign direct investments. The objective is not only to reach out to the countries that we have existing, beneficial relationships with, but also to those who have shied away from our country because of the numerous red tapes that have caused considerable frustration."

Hon. Chris Coye - Minister of State: Finance, Economic Development, and Investment
"We can't have a system of bureaucracy where the likely response is a ‘no', rather than a ‘yes'. We have to look at how we foster, how we facilitate economic activity, and to do that, we have to first show that yes, Belize is open for business."

One of the main themes of today's launch is that these business-minded officials have taken a long and sober look at the current investment climate in Belize. They say that they have identified key pain points that have discouraged entrepreneurs from choosing this jurisdiction as THE option for their investments.

Hon. Chris Coye
"The clamour of the business community, local and international, has been it's difficult to do business in Belize. Again, the numbers speak to that. When you look at the World Bank's Ease of Doing Business Index, we are at the very bottom, I think roughly 130 out of 190 countries, and we have been descending in that ranking consistently over the past decade. We intend to turn that around and to turn that around drastically. Starting a business in Belize can take, on average, roughly 6 weeks, and the cost of starting a business in Belize is almost prohibitively expensive when we talk about setting up a company."

GOB says that they have already started to deploy changes to ease those pain points.

Hon. Chris Coye
"As far as ease of doing business, we are focusing on specific areas to enable the conduct of business, to enhance the conduct of business in Belize. Some of those areas include trade license reform. I believe that was just recently approved, and that has the support of the business sector; stamp duty reform, exchange control reform, and lands reform. We are, at present, looking at modernizing the companies registry and our companies law. I think it is in the legislative process right now for the reduction of fees in starting a company, and we already have our draft companies law, a work in progress, yes, but I expect in the next couple of months that this will be completed."

Lincoln Blake - Investment Policy and Compliance Unit
"We do recognize that there are structural issues that we need to deal with, so as to improve the to-do business index, which does affect us in attracting new investments. So, currently, we're looking for an example - both internally. We're starting with ourselves at the ministry and BELTRAIDE, where we look at our procedures, our protocols, how do we engage investors. How do we treat investors? How long do we take to process an application? All of that is with the objective to reduce the time, and also that this investment could be implemented as quickly as possible."

Hon. Chris Coye
"Geographically, where are we? We're in Central America. We have markets right around us that we have not fully tapped for trade, or for inward investment. It is now high time that we look to these markets, and we engage to ensure that we attract investment, and we build trade."

Ishmael Quiroz - Executive Director, Economic Development Council
"Another key commitment of the new administration is to vigorously and actively support the digital transformation of the economy. The Cabinet has run with a suite of new digital laws and has enthusiastically supported the passage of those. So, that has been in preparation. It will contribute significantly to the roll-out of E-governance initiatives, as well as E-commerce uptake."

Lincoln Blake
"By the time we get to the Investment Summit, we should have significant amounts of initiatives, interventions, and changes, not only in procedures and policy, but also in law, to ensure that those investors feel a lot more comfortable and make sure that we give an indication that Belize really is open for business."

The Summit is scheduled to take place on November 3rd and 4th. It will take place virtually and in person at Grand Caribe Hotel, San Pedro Town.

Channel 7

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