Belize Business Bureau urges government to reduce supermarket costs for consumers.
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- May 9, 2023
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The Belize Business Bureau (BBB) is calling on the government to implement measures geared at reducing the pain of consumers when visiting the supermarket. The everyday costs of goods continue to balloon despite GOB’s effort to control the country’s inflation. By all accounts, the spending power of the everyday man and woman has decreased significantly, and many are clamoring for ease. President of the BBB, Arturo Lizarraga, says while the war in Ukraine and the work of global inflation are at play; there is more the government can do to ease the plight of the local consumers.
Arturo Lizarraga, President, Belize Business Bureau: “But I believe also there are other issues that we can do to mitigate our inflation. For example I am a big advocate that the GST and I say it goes on the department itself and there are players both in the public and private sector who do not want the collection of GST to be done properly. I believe that all businesses should produce a Walmart kind of receipt that does not fade, that itemizes each of the items and it’s recorded both in print form and electronically meaning that all businesses should be linked to the tax department so on the hour on the minute in real time the government knows exactly how much is being paid and where it’s deposited. If we are able to do that and link the goods on the shelf to the shipment that comes in we will be able to identify the contraband but more importantly we would be able to collect all the GST. There are lots of people who are not paying GST and if we are able to collect GST we probably could reduce it from 12 ½ to 10% if we collect effectively using the tools that we have. But that part of it has never been implemented because both people in the corrupt private and public sector the part does not want that to happen but I believe if the government could have the political will to implement that system we’ll be able to have a less costly gouging.”
Lizarraga went on to state that he believes the government can also explore trade agreements with our neighbors in Central America to lower the cost of goods.
Arturo Lizarraga, President, Belize Business Bureau: “I also believe that there should be a list of maybe 200 items that Belizeans can go and shop at Chetumal, come across the border and it’s a big poster where people say these are the 200 items that you can bring across. Well it doesn’t have to be no duty it could be a duty but a low duty but at least people can then buy the goods so that then the people who are importing cannot hold the Belizean consumer hostage. At least you know for 200 items you can have your family feeding and if a Belizean is smart enough they can send the truck bring it over and send it to the belligerence but we need to force the current importers who have a lock on the officials in terms of- because a lot of them continue bringing in some unfairly do not pay taxes and they continue keeping the prices up so I am saying that competition, real competition would bring it down. One of the things that Business Bureau has advocated and unfortunately the other part of the private sector has resisted and government too has resisted is the free trade agreement with Mexico. Mexico had a free trade agreement with the US and it benefited them tremendously. Yes they still import from the US and the biggest exporter to Mexico is the US but Mexico has been able to export a lot and including creating a lot of new vehicles that they make and they sell worldwide. I am saying that if we had had that free trade agreement with Mexico and we have one with El Salvador- because people fear the one with Guatemala -but if we have those free trade agreements one with Panama, El Salvador, Mexico what would that do? It would mean that all people can go to these countries and import and the price is set so the agreement will ensure that people will get the goods properly priced.”