| According to present chairman of the ACTCC, Andre Perez, “The signatures are there, but nowhere on our files can we find either the application [for importation or replacement of the vehicles…] or the original copies of the of the letters of approval.” Thus these letters are considered “false and illegal.’
April 11th, 2006, March 10th, 2006, and February 18th, 2007, were the dates marked on three different letters addressed to various businessmen informing them that their application for importation of golf carts to the island had been approved. S.P. Golf Cart Rentals Limited, Ali Hussein Harmouche, and Sea Star Golf Cart Rental respectively were approved for either the importation or replacement of golf carts (20, 50 and 30 of them respectively) to the island by the Ambergris Caye Traffic Control Committee (ACTCC). All three letters were signed by past ACTCC Chairmen, who claim to have never signed any or to have ever seen application forms for them.
In an interview with The San Pedro Sun, ACTCC present Chairman Andre Perez commented that his attention was brought to the matter and after “thorough search of records no evidence was found” to corroborate that said businessmen had gone through the proper procedure to acquire a permit for the importation or replacement of the golf carts in question.
“The signatures are there, but no where on our files can we find either the application for importation or replacement of the vehicles nor can we find the original copies of the letters of approval. There is nothing in our files that proves that these letters of approval are authentic,” explained Perez. A check with the San Pedro Town Council revealed that one of the companies has been granted a trade license for their respective golf cart company. However, Perez stressed to the Trade Licensing Committee that said letter of approval is false and therefore declared illegal. “If any of these businessmen were to bring any golf carts down to the island, illegally, then they are liable to a fine of $500 per golf cart,” explained Perez.
Perez stressed that since coming into office as the ACTCC Chairman many inconsistencies with the department have been brought to light. “Holes or leaks,” as he calls them, will be rectified before any other traffic issue can be addressed. “We understand that develop is occurring, we know it will happen and as ACTCC we are not against it but we need to find a sustainable way to make it happen, especially when it relates to the amount of traffic in Ambergris Caye. It is a serious issue that needs to be addressed.”
In order to remedy the previous problems, new rules have been implemented which are to take effect immediately.
1) Any person having a letter of approval, signed by any other previous Chairman, for the importation or replacement of any vehicle, be it a golf cart, motorcycle or car, is asked to please visit the ACTCC office. “All permits without my signature are now considered void. Please visit our office so that we may help you re-apply for your importation or replacement,” commented Perez. This is a directive from Commisoner of Transport Michael Godoy.
2) Approval letters will now be signed by the Chairman as well as member of ACTCC Gerardo Reyes or any other member. No longer will letters of approval be considered when only one signature is on it.
3) When applying for a trade license to operate a golf cart company or to receive you vehicle registration sticker from SPTC, SPTC will send a letter of verification to ACTCC to ensure that you have gone through the proper procedure to acquire your permit.
As per the golf cart companies in question, ACTCC Chairman sent letters of ‘denial’ to all three businessmen, as well as to another letter of approval in question. This letter was addressed to Sea Star Golf Cart Rental, which, as press time, Chairman Perez had not even been able to verify who the owner of said golf cart company is. As for trade licenses granted to golf cart companies, both ACTCC and SPTC agree that the traffic situation has to be taken into careful consideration before granting a license to any businessperson. Presently, both entities are seeking legal advise which will help them determine if SPTC could deny a trade license to any Belizean or foreign investor applying for a golf cart rental company permit.
“At no time are we fabricating new rules and regulations, we are simply following the present statutory instrument. We have absolutely nothing against these businessmen or their intention to conduct the business but we have to make sure that proper procedures are followed,” ended Perez.