By Michelle Sutherland
Since its introduction in the House of Representatives, two weeks ago, the Trade License Bill 2022 has been generating a lot of backlashes, especially from the entertainment industry, but Prime Minister John Briceño blamed it on ''bad wording.''
In response to last week's announcement by the Governments, which had informed of the deferral of fees for local entertainers, Briceño said, "I don’t think it is a matter that we have walked back the Trade License Bill. Remember this has been in the works since 2018 that is not something we came up with. This is the works of the municipalities and obviously, when you look at the issue of entertainers it was worded badly. I think it was never the intention of the councils to be able to tax entertainers for every single gig they do."
In fact, Briceño claimed that the bill was aimed at taxing international entertainers who come into Belize to host shows and concerts. Briceño made reference to the Tourism Minister Anthony Mahler who is hosting a concert, comprising both local and international artists in San Pedro at the end of July.
Briceño explained that his administration decided that they should take hold of the opportunity to pause when it comes to taxing local entertainers, and instead look at what type of support the government could loan them. As it relates to international entertainers Briceno said that his administration still believes that international entertainers and artists should pay taxes, when conducting business in Belize.
Last week, the Briceño administration had announced that following a House Committee meeting between stakeholders on Monday, after noting the fragile state of the entertainment industry, Cabinet had agreed to defer any fee for local entertainers. Instead, Cabinet vowed that they would be consulting with the relevant stakeholders in an effort to develop incentives for the creative sector.
Local entertainers have been up in arms over Schedule 7 of the bill which had proposed to tax entertainers approximately $200 per performance.