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On Friday March 9th, Prime Minister Dean Barrow presented the 10th Budget estimate of his administration entitled “Maintaining Steadiness; Consolidating Stability; Advancing Growth”. The proposed budget contains a forecasted revenue and grants total of an estimated $1.183 billion, but expenditure of $1.208 billion. The PM revealed in his budget presentation that while the budget deficit is $25.4 million there will also be $92.7 million outstanding for Loan Amortization requirements and that will widen the overall deficit to $118.1 million.


The budget presentation includes some promises of infrastructure works, but it short falls of providing a zing like previous budgets that promised massive transformation and saw millions of dollars rolling. In this Budget, there is shrewd spending and according to the Prime Minister, this is intentional since his Government is focused on financial stability.


BarrowRt. Honourable Dean Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize


“But I am saying to you that it is not a budget of pyro techniques, it is not a budget of fireworks it is a steady as she go budget and in these times where fiscal consolidation is the watch word that’s how it is and that’s how quite frankly it should be while we go through these period of consolidation and recovery before getting once again hitting full stride and perhaps returning you to the glory days of pyro techniques, that may well be for somebody else after I have left but there it is.”


While there were no popular political promises in the upcoming Budget, there was not so popular talk of tax increases to close in on about $20m of the budget deficit. Among the new tax measures are an expansion in the reach of the General Sales Tax on data purchases on phones. The PM indicated that this tax measure should raise over $6m.

 

Rt. Honourable Dean Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize


“With respect to the GST now on data services it is as I explained we all know that there has been a shift away from VOICE of the regular VOICE calls to DATA and as a consequence the GST collections have fallen steeply we have to replace that lost and this is the logical way to do it.”


Reporter


“How much revenue do you all hope to raise from this new measure?”


Rt. Honourable Dean Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize


“That I think is about 6 million dollars, overall as I said the new measures including having government pay its GST would raise about 20 million I think the shift to collecting GST now on DATA would yield us about six or perhaps a little more.”


Other tax measures will include the increase of the social fee for businesses at the Free Zone, from 2.5% to 3%.

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