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#556654 04/12/22 10:40 AM
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The following statement has been provided to us from the Belize Chamber of Commerce with regards to the Trade License Reform:

In October of 2021 Cabinet gave its approval to the Ministry responsible for Local Government to make changes to the Trade Licensing system. Of the changes expected to occur is the expansion of the Trade License system to include businesses in all municipalities, including villages. The Ministry of Local Government is conducting stakeholder consultations to explain the details of how the Trade License system would be rolled out to the villages.

Presently, the proposal is that Trade License for businesses located in villages would be calculated using the concept of a productive footprint (though this has not been properly defined, it is meant to refer to the space a business uses for economic activity). Depending on the size of the productive footprint, businesses would then fall into defined brackets which prescribe the Trade License fee that is payable. If a business's productive footprint is below 600 sq. ft. then that business would be exempt from the Trade License fee. In the 600 - 800 sq. ft. bracket, the payable fee is proposed at $100. A fee of $250 is applicable to businesses falling in the 800-1000 sq. ft. range. Businesses above the 1000 sq. ft. threshold will have their Trade License fee calculated according to the formula used in the nearest municipality. This would mean that a business located immediately outside of city limits whose space is above the 1000 sq. ft. threshold would have their trade license calculated using the formula used for business in Belize City.

At the time of writing, there is no draft legislation in circulation detailing the changes to be made.

We will have more updates on this as it becomes available.

Belize Hotel Association

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Updated Trade License Laws Tabled

There was a lot of public rage generated on Facebook today after Belizeans learned the details behind the Briceno government's Trade Licensing Bill of 2022.

In this piece of draft legislation, the government seeks to update the trade licensing laws that will apply in all the country's cities, towns and villages. When the bill was first tabled today in the House, the topic was discussed almost as routine housekeeping business, without any controversy.

Here's that moment when Oscar Requena, the Minister responsible for Local Government, introduced it to his colleagues:

Hon. Oscar Requena - Minister of Rural Transformation, Community Development, Local Government & Labour
"Madam Speaker, this is the trade licensing bill 2022. Madam Speaker, I rise to introduce a bill for an act to make provisions for trade licensing, to repeal the Trade Licensing Act, Chapter 66 of the Substantive Laws of Belize, Revised Edition 2020, and to provide for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. Madam Speaker, this bill has the recommendation of the Cabinet. Madame Speaker, Chapter 66 of the laws of Belize makes provisions for the requirement for anyone intending to carry out a trade or sale of goods or services in a municipality, town, and city in Belize to apply for a license from the Locally appointed Trade Licensing Board to conduct such trade. In 2014 the Ministry of Local Government, the Belize Mayors Association, and the Economic Development Council began working in partnership on Trade Licensing Reform to determine sound recommendations for the application of a new trade license regime. Why is a trade license necessary? It is necessary to allow for the local authority to regulate the conduct of trade within the local space, to allow for the protection of the public health and safety, to allow for the local authority to provide the necessary municipal services, and finally, to legitimize the applicant's privilege to conduct such trade within the local space. Madam Speaker, the goal is really to create an enabling environment for economic growth and facilitate business development in Belize as outlined in the Plan Belize."

Attorney Warns Trade License Laws Will Affect Village Peddlers, Street Vendors and Entertainers

Later on in the day, the public outrage against the bill started to build when Belizeans reviewed the document's draft schedule.

For example, seen here, the government proposes to charge owners of amusement park rides owners 500 dollars per day. International Performers and Entertainers will have to pay 500 dollars per day. Belizean entertainers like musicians and DJs will have to pay 200 dollars a day. After some of the entertainers saw the document, they made angry posts on social media pointing out, that these taxes will basically force them out of the industry because they certainly don't make enough money to afford the tariffs.

Here's what attorney OJ Elrington had to say about it today when we asked:

Orson "OJ" Elrington - Attorney
"The effect of the amendments is going to be an albatross, a serious deterrent for small businesses. It will be a burden too heavy to carry for the small man and small woman. It is retrograde. It is archaic. And it makes no sense."

Cherisse Halsall
"There was a specific complaint about peddlers, especially in small villages. We're talking about the kids that sell juice on the bump."

Orson "OJ" Elrington
"Juice, plum, mango, any person that sells anything in a public place will now be subject to a trade license."

Cherisse Halsall
"When was the consultation period for this?"

Orson "OJ" Elrington
"Well, you would need to ask the government that. I know of none, but you would need to ask them. That's a question for them. I have no knowledge of any consultation taking place. When I reviewed the legislation this morning, a few of them jumped out at me for one. One was obviously in the entertainment industry. As we know, most of the people who participate in the entertainment industry in Belize it's not our profession. It is something that they try to catch and kill. They try to get a little bit of money here. And there and under this new regime, all entertainers - you're talking about DJs, singers, musicians, dancers, anybody who provides any type of entertainment will be subjected to having to get a license."

Cherisse Halsall
"It says a maximum fee of $200 per day, but most musicians don't perform every day."

Orson "OJ" Elrington
"And most musicians probably don't even make $200 for a performance for the day. So you are absolutely correct when you say that."

As we told you the blowback o this one is enormous and we'll be probing the implications of this new piece of legislations next week.

Channel 7


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Trade License Bill, 2022

On Friday, May 13, 2022, Hon. Oscar Requena, Minister of Rural Transformation, Community Development, Labour and Local Government, presented a bill in the National Assembly, for the repeal and replacement of the Trade Licensing Act, Chapter 66 of the Laws of Belize, Revised Edition, 2020.

Pursuant to the presentation of the bill, and as a consequence of erroneous and misleading mainstream and social media representation, the ministry has found it necessary to issue the following statements.

1. The Trade Licensing Reform initiative dates to 2014 and has gone through an extensive iterative process that has included extensive consultation with private and public sector stakeholders across the entire country.

2. For the rural areas, the proposed bill does not levy any license requirements or fees on any street and roadside vendors or other microenterprises. The bill only considers trade licensing for business establishments with a productive footprint of 600 or more square footage; all other business types are exempted from paying a trade licensing fee.

3. Acrobats, peddlers, amusement rides, and other such forms of entertainment are currently eligible for trade licensing assessment under the existing Trade License Act. This requirement remains under the proposed Schedule 7 but ONLY for the urban setting.

4. Under the proposed Schedule 7, the fee for the local onstage live performers and entertainers such as concert performances ONLY is to be declared by the respective local authorities, but such fee is per event and should NOT exceed $200 and is NOT applicable to free and charitable performances.

5. The fees shown in Schedule 7 are a ceiling of maximum fees that may be charged. The Trade Licensing boards will use this as a guide to declare fees. The final fees will be declared after the respective boards determine the most appropriate quantum, which may be less.

6. Among other matters, the new proposed regime aims to achieve the following legal and regulatory provisions:

a. Establish trade licensing fees for license holders for a definitive three-year period; this eliminates the requirement for the local authority to conduct annual assessments for established and licensed businesses as well as provides certainty and stability for business owners.

b. Only the productive footprint of a business premise would be deemed as the assessable area; thus, eliminating common areas and amenities such as parking lots, restrooms, storage rooms and such from the assessment procedure as has been done in the past.

c. Fix the rate for a three-year period that the local authority is to utilize for the calculation of the trade license fee; currently the legally mandated rate is 25%; the rates being proposed by the respective local authorities are reduced to between 8% and 18%.

d. Consider the area (zone) of the city or town where the business is conducted so that the lower the development status of the area is, the lower the average cost per square footage charge will be.

e. Businesses are classified according to their type of productive activity; thus, license holders can compare and contrast fees assessed with other similar business establishments allowing for a more level playing field.

7. Agricultural lands including orchards, pastures and small stockholding pens are also exempted from being assessed for the purpose of determining a trade licensing fee.

For the avoidance of doubt, the public is to note, that many e-business operators, freelance auto dealers, utility service providers such as plumbers, carpenters, and electricians have applied to local councils for trade licensing to satisfy banking and financial institutions' requirements such as the source of funds verification for deposits. However, the current legislation has no provision for the local authority to assess or grant a trade license to such entities.

In conclusion, the ministry underscores that the bill was tabled for its first reading only and has been referred to the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee for its consideration. The ministry further encourages all interested parties to make representation to the House Committee at its sitting when announced by the National Assembly. This process allows for concerns and input from affected parties to be taken into account and modifications made before the bill is returned to the House for subsequent readings.

The proposed Trade License Bill, 2022, once legislated, will not come into effect until the next trade licensing period starting January 1, 2023.

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Minister Defends Trade Licensing Bill

Last Friday, we showed you Oscar Requena, the Minister responsible for Local Government and Rural Transformation, introducing the Briceno Administration's Trade Licensing Bill of 2022.

Among other changes, it will empower local government authorities in villages, towns, and cities to charge micro and not-so micro enterprises and operators a trade license fee.

Most controversially, it makes provisions for peddlers and entertainers to be charged a trade license fee.

While only those peddlers who operate in a 600 square foot space stand to pay a fee, for entertainers, it's a different story - and, tonight, they are the most outraged by the proposed legislation.

In the new trade licensing bill, entertainers are defined as "...a person who performs any act for profit including, an acrobat, circus performer, dancer, singer, musician, comedian, and disc jockey." The new bill says that they can be charged as much as $200 per day.

Last week, some of Belize's well-known musicians, entertainers, and DJs took to Facebook to express their outrage at the Bill and the suddenly high cost they could incur to do business.

Dina Halsall, the bassist for the Belizean rock/metal band, Ascenthium, said quote, "This choice will affect current and future entertainers by making the cost of entry inaccessible for us and the venues." End quote.

On Saturday, the Ministry of Rural Transformation, Community Development, Labour, and Local Government sent out a press release saying that entertainers are already eligible for trade licensing assessment under the existing Trade License Act. This requirement remains under the proposed Schedule 7 but ONLY for the urban setting.

This evening, we spoke with Local Government Minister Oscar Requena for a few more clarifications on this bill. Here's what he told us via telephone when we asked specifically about peddlers and micro-enterprises in the rural areas:

Hon. Oscar Requena - Minister of Local Government
"The matter of trade licenses for the rural areas is only applicable if we have 600 or more square feet of productive space. And care is right now within the municipalities, yeah. The Trade Licensing Act requires that businesses within the existing municipalities register. But there is, you know, even the existing trade license things are going to be amended within the municipalities to ensure that, you know, it is a more fair and more equitable process for the business owners. Unfortunately, a lot of the emphasis and the misinformation was on the rural area where they were saying that all these small business establishments were going to be paying a trade license. That is absolutely not so, very, very important."

Daniel Ortiz
"Street or roadside vendors or micro-enterprises that take place within towns and cities Do they have to get trade licenses now, sir?"

Hon. Oscar Requena
"As it is within the municipalities, I believe that they would have to - You know. There would certainly be clear criteria for those existing businesses that would have to be registered. I do not see the smaller vendors: the tacos stand, the barbecue stand, the little rice, and beans stand - I know that municipalities may have a small little fee that may be levied on them. Those are all issues that we are contemplating in the bill. We are looking at it. And definitely, I can say to you that those concerns of the general public are going to be taken into account. But it is important that these businesses be registered."

We turn now to the Minister's comments on the outrage of the entertainers and performers who say that the ceiling for the fees that they can be charged is far too high. Here's that back and forth:

Hon. Oscar Requena - Minister of Local Government
"The matter of fees for the various service providers, such as the artists and others that there is a maximum ceiling of $200. Now, the boards, in their own deliberations and in their own wisdom, may decide in a particular jurisdiction that you know what they want to levy in a particular fee, not exceeding $200. It can be far less than that, and they will have that right to do so."

Daniel Ortiz
"But can't the entertainers, musicians, and the DJs make the point that the ceiling is too high and that it gives the licensing boards the opportunity to charge them a fee that is way out of their reach? And it says daily."

Hon. Oscar Requena
"I think there is a clarification that has to be made. We're not talking about a daily fee. I think it's a matter of whenever they carry out their performance sessions. So, it does not necessarily have to be on a daily basis. I think that that is important that we clarify. And let me say to you. We hear the concerns of the artists and other performing entertainers. We hear him. I believe that it was a genuine concern that they have raised. We are a government that is going to listen to the people. We are going to take into account their concerns, and we are going to work with the various stakeholders. So that at the end of the day, this can be a win-win situation."

Channel 7


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Any persons or interested bodies wishing to give their views and/or recommendation on the Trade Licensing Bill, 2022 are invited to do so either in person at the Public Service, Labour, Industry and Trade Committee Meeting on Monday, 23rd May 2022, at 10am in the Committee Room of the National Assembly Building OR in writing to the Clerk of the National Assembly Building no later than Friday, 20th May 2022. A copy of the draft of the bill can be found on the National Assembly Website at:

https://www.ruraltransformation.gov...-releases/draft-trade-license-bill-2022/

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Explaining The Peddlers Law

Last week Friday social media exploded in a frenzy after Oscar Requena, the Minister responsible for Local Government tabled the Trade License Act of 2022.

Since then the Bill, has been creating quite a stir among village vendors, e-merchants, and many of the side hustlers who've been told that the tax-man is bound to knock on their door.

And this morning when the Minister and his C.E.O. appeared on Sunup on 7 they told us that the tax, at least for peddlers isn't new. Here's their take on the rules for peddlers and why they say that small-time rural vendors are exempt.

Valentino Shal
"Peddlers only exist only under the law in urban area currently and that would remain the same in the new law, so there be no peddlers in rural areas legally. In other words, you can be a peddler in a rural area, there is no charge, no fee, no nothing."

Host
"Let's determine what is a rural area, because we know that villages, once it's declared a village under the village council act, it's under that trade licensing bill. What is a rural area in that case?"

Valentino Shal
"A rural area is anything outside of the declared municipalities."

Host
"Can you give us an example of where is a rural area?"

Valentino Shal
"Anything outside of Belize City for instance, in the Belize District is considered rural area. So all these established villages with recognized councils and everything - those are villages and so, because I saw on the news last night about peddlers in rural areas and peddlers having a square footage of 600 sq feet before they are charged. Peddlers by definition are mobile, you wouldn't have an establish premise, so putting those 2 things together is incorrect, so peddlers, people selling ideal and tamales in villages - all of that stuff - none of that is covered under the law. This is for established premisses, because we do have large businesses in some rural areas, not all of them, but quite a few of them and so those are the ones who are asked to pay a little bit and it's not taxed at the same level in the rural area or charge at the same level in the urban area. They are very different and so you have to be a certain size and 600 sq ft is quite a decent size right."

Hon. Oscar Requena
"Thats a very important point that we need to clarify, because certainly some of the misinformation that we see on social media in relation to the rural area is that they are saying every small little business, the tacos stand, craboo stand, bread stand is going to be paid a trade licensed and that is absolutely not so. Under the proposed legislation, it has to be an established business and the premise must be 600 sq ft. or more for them to be eligible and what are we talking about, under the proposed legislation anything above 600-800 sq ft is $150 per year. Anything between 600-1000 sq ft is $250 per year. Thats the proposed. Remember that all of this will go before the house committee and representation is going to be made. There is the possibility that those fee structures may change."

Why The Rural Tax?

And while it's a bill that's open to changes coming out of the committee meetings, the Minister and the C.E.O says that at its core it was designed to help rural communities earn their own revenues, rather than remain at the mercy of the central government public purse.

Hon. Oscar Requena
"Why the emphases on the rural area? traditionally village councils their only source of revenue is from liquor licenses and other small income that they may generate. Here we have an opportunity particularly in the bigger villages. Think about a village like Placencia where you have so many established businesses. Think about a community like Caye Caulker that is going to have its own trade licensing board. Can you imagine the kind of positive economic output that is going to have for them, in terms of revenue? So that is the positive in the bill and I think that those are the things we need to look at. It's a step forward in regulating and stabilizing and certainly promoting the economics of these communities."

Valentino Shal
"Part of the reason why we included rural areas in the new trade license regime is because the village council act when it was passed 20 years ago gave responsibilities to village councils, local government, but gave them little to no resources and it was supposed to be a process of decentralization of deepening democracy where 50% of our population lives, but its hollow, because you give people responsibilities, you tell them you have all of this legal mandate, but you give them no resources to work. How are we supposed to develop the other half of our country under those conditions? and so when the government came under planBelize they said we will resource these village councils, so they stop going places to places looking for handout, looking for small donations to help their community - they will have from the economic activities of their own community, generate the revenue and begin to address their own problems in their own community and that is how you empower people and that is the purpose of the law."

Clarifying The Tax On Artists

And when it comes to 2022's Trade License Act no group has complained more bitterly than artists and entertainers, that's because depending on the size of and involvement in a performance, they could potentially face a tax as high as $200 per event.

Here's the back and forth between Channel 7's Sunup hosts and the Minister on what the artist tax actually means and whether it will stifle or support a fledgling industry.

It's an issue that remains extremely polarizing on social media tonight.

And we'll be ventilating it tomorrow night on UNCUT when we sit with three professional musicians to get their unique tastes on the effect that the proposed tax could have on their livelihoods.

Channel 7


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Trade License Bill: What are Villages and Who are Entertainers?

In scrutinizing the language of the proposed legislation, attorney OJ Elrington says that persons conducting business at the micro-level in villages will also be affected by the new law once it is enacted. He goes on to share the legal definitions that pertain to villages, as well as entertainers.

OJ Elrington, Attorney-at-law


"It says, every person who wishes to commence a trade within the limits of any town shall, before the commencement of such a business commit to the board of the town wherein the purposes is to set up his trade. Town. Let's go to what is the definition of a town for the purposes of this act and it's in the third page of the substantive act, in the definitions. It says a town, a town means any town mentioned and described in the schedule to the Town Councils Act or the Belize City Council Act. B: the City of Belmopan established under the Belmopan City Council Act or any village declared under the Village Council Act. The act itself tells you, every single place in Belize, including villages, is covered by this act. According to the act, in black and white, under the definitions, it says peddler means a person who sells or exposes goods for sale in any public place. Good. Let's move on. Let's talk about the other big lie that these tax suckers are telling. They claim that the act is only for, when the tax on entertainers, the tax is only for big entertainers, established entertainers, those who are having huge concerts. So I don't know if you know but there is a feature in PDF that you can search to determine if a word appears anywhere in the document, if the word appears anywhere in the document. But let's begin first with the definition of entertainers. Again, the definition segment of entertainers´┐Ż it says, entertainer means a person who performs any act for profit, including any acrobat, circus performer, dancer, singer, musician, comedian and disc jockey. Nowhere does it says any person who makes over ten thousand dollars, over a thousand dollars. It gives no qualifying criteria. Any person who performs any of these acts for profit is subject to this act."



Chamber Believes There Should Be a Flat Fee for Trade License

The Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry says that the conversation with G.O.B. on trade license reform started back in 2009 and has evolved over time. Major concerns were ventilated back in 2013, when trade license had increased up to three hundred percent for some of its members in various municipalities. According to the president of the B.C.C.I., Marcello Blake, there should be appropriate and equitable share of the cost. He says that eighty-percent of the membership is micro, small and medium enterprises and that there are five key goals.

Marcello Blake, President, Belize Chamber of Commerce & Industry


"The revenue neutrality, the transparency, predictability, the administratively ease and accountability. For us, we remain committed to the process to ensure that we could move towards a fee, rather than what it is currently, which is a tax by another name that is levied on businesses as a trade license. So for us, while in the short and medium term we remain sympathetic to the municipalities and the need for the funding that goes into those municipalities for them to offer the necessary goods and services, we are also of the opinion that we must move towards a flat fee rather than the way the calculations are being done currently. And so, while the conversations have been ongoing and yes the Chamber has been consulted, part of our challenge with the move to take it to the House so early is the fact that the Chamber did not necessarily have adequate time to be able to go through the actual written bill. So conceptually, we discussed various elements of the build in order for us to get to the point where we are and we must commend the ministry for the steps taken to move us in this direction and while there is some element of predictability in the bill, where there is a three-year review, it does not remove the requests from our end to be able to digest the Bill in its written format - in as much detail as possible - and for us to then go to our members and be able to consult with the document in hand."



The Proposed Trade License Regime Explained

While the discourse on social media is centered around Article Seven of the bill as it relates to entertainers, peddlers and others now having to pay for a trade license, Policy Analyst Dyon Elliot explains the issues with the trade licensing regime as it has been in place since 1976. Elliot says that the bill proposes a new methodology to calculate annual rental value and expands now to include rural areas. While they may not agree with the methodology, they appreciate that the municipalities benefit from this revenue.

Dyon Elliot, Policy Analyst, Belize Chamber of Commerce & Industry


"The government went and worked on different iterations of this thing; the most recent one before us which is not being discussed in the public sphere right now is how the annual rental value is being calculated under the bill that has gone before the House. The bill before the House proposes a new methodology to calculate annual rental value. It takes your business classification. There are different zones. Belize City has three zones, zone one, two and three. And each business classification - whether it's an accommodation, professional service, auto dealer, x, y, z they have a different rate per square foot for those businesses depending on the business classification, based on the zone that they are in and that is used to now calculate based on your square footage that looks at that is how now you are going to be assess for your annual rental value. The municipalities are now given an option to choose a rate. Before the law had it fixed that you were supposed to be charging twenty-five percent on annual rental value. Now the nine municipalities that currently have a trade license are given the options to choose what rate as long as it is twenty-five percent or below. So for example Belize City has said that they will choose fifteen percent. That is the proposed regime now. We don't necessarily like it; it is not the best regime as President Blake has said. Our call has been for flat fee for years; that's the international best practice, it is for flat fee."



Channel 5

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Artists and Musicians, From The Stage To The Seat of Power

And while some of Belizean music's big names were at the Belize Music Fest launch, they were notably missing from today's House Committee Meeting in Belmopan, where stakeholders in the entertainment industry were given the opportunity to voice their concerns about the new trade licensing bill.

In fact, only about ten artists, promoters, and music associations showed up - along with other organisations such as BCCI and Belize City Council.

But those that did attend made full use of the time allotted to make their presentations. Many of them felt left out of the consultation on such an important decision and voiced the need for more discussions, while others feel that taxing those in a struggling industry shouldn't even be an option.

Courtney Menzies was at the National Assembly today - where the media was allowed inside the Committee Meeting room for the first time - and has this story.

Artists, promoters, and NGO's walked up the stairs of the National Assembly - many of them for the first time - to give their opinion on the Trade Licensing Bill, which would see more money out of their pockets.

And inside the Committee Meeting, everybody got their chance to speak and many of them shared the same sentiments - more consultation is needed:

Dina Halsall, Ascenthium
"We requested a 2-5 year grace period for them to conduct a census and a proper sensitisation of the industry. We realised that speaking on the bill specifically was actually unethical because of the fact that they not consult our industry or any stakeholders within the creative economy. So instead of speaking on the bill directly, we wanted to open the conversation more to what we wanted to see being done in the future, how they could actually implement the good that they thought the bill would have implemented for us into our industry and we had that conversation, they seemed energetic to do something about it, and we hope that energy persists throughout."

Andazi Panton, Flavaz Entertainment
"We came to voice our opinion because it was clear to us from the way that the bill was written that the entertainment industry was not consulted. Anybody who's actively working in the entertaining industry would be able to clearly point out that the fee schedule that the board has set out is not conducive to the type of income, or lack of income that's being made in the entertainment industry. So we came here to voice our concerns about that, about the fee structure, about the lack of consultation, and the need for proper consultation going forward, and a need for a structure fee base if this license is going to be enacted for the entertainment industry."

And while some are open to further discussions about the licensing fees, others feel that, for now, it should be done away with until the entertainment industry can stand on its own feet.

Musa Abdul Shaheed, Artist
"We basically confused and tell ourselves that we have an industry and our country does not have an industry because I do not have a salary in my phone like someone who works at Transparent BPO or yourself at News 7 that you know what is your salary for the month, I don't know what I say salary for the month, how could I pay tax?"

"Till we create an industry the right way and we have. Concrete identity as a people as to who we are and until we know that we're working at three to four different establishments in our various art forms and we know that our paintings is in some building getting sold, then you can start thinking about a yearly tax to go and perform 100 times for the year or two hundred times for the year but you can't put a tax on someone who is performing two or three times for the year."

River of Fire, Association for Belizean Artists
"We don't get a fee. If we have 5 band members, the best we could do is to say okay $500 for 5 band members, but then we have to take into account all the things it takes for that person to make it to that show and they are talking about a group sell a show for $500 and then they have to pay $200 out of it. So then what is the group going to make and then they are talking about the next aspect of this whole bill is per performance. The trade licensed is supposed to be yearly fee, it don't come by per performance. Thats just totality ridiculous on th government on any part."

And while the industry is still growing, only few of its stakeholders made it out - and the artists that were present weren't too happy about what they feel was a purposeful move.

Dina Halsall, Ascenthium
"The amount of artists in there does not go over 15 and it's sad because this is an industry that's fledgling, it's young, but there's passion here and there's passion from a lot of the creative people, when you hear the music that they make express this intensity you would expect it to translate to something like this today however they took the time to be a part of the BTB meeting and the process that took place there and I think it's sad that those things had to coincidence and like we said earlier, we wouldn't want to call it a divide and conquer tactic, but it doesn't look very good on the unifying voice that we want to present to the government that half of the sector, and we say half because there's such little musicians in this country, is somewhere else when something so important is happening right here."

Guido Gonzalez, Ascenthium
"It doesn't look very good especially since BTB culturally uses a lot of artists to enhance themselves and we do believe taking attention away from this is unbecoming in a perspective."

Courtney Menzies:
"And I'm sure your friends of colleagues were some of those same artists who were at that event, when you talk to them or when they talk to you, do you feel that they have the same views as you guys in relation to the bill?"

Guido Gonzalez, Ascenthium
"Yes absolutely, they share the same sentiments but at the same time, they are trying to prioritise and they're giving them the option to do so. But we wanted to be here to talk about these matters because we think it's incredibly important, if our opnions go unheard and our queries go unheard, the only people that are going to suffer are the artists and whatever undeveloped or unknown future artists that we don't know about."

Musa Abdul Shaheed, Artist
"Very awful turn out, there were some artists that voiced that they would show up, voice that they can't show up because of work but we see them at BTB signing cheques to go and perform an identity that isn't theirs?"

But according to many of these stakeholders, the government - to their credit - listened intently and appeared willing to take their concerns and suggestions into consideration.

Now, they wait with bated breath to see what the next step for this bill will be.

We attempted to ask both Minister Rodwell Ferguson and CEO Valentino Shal for interviews following the meeting but both declined. The chair, Minister of State, Elvia Vega, was also unavailable for interview despite being present in the meeting.

Channel 7



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