After a backlash, the Department of Local Government clarifies provisions of the Business Licensing Bill, 2022

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Posted: Sunday, May 15, 2022. 12:31 p.m. CST.

By Aaron Humes: With Friday being the thirteenth, some sectors of Belizeans must have wondered what they did wrong for the “bad luck” of the Business Licensing Bill, 2022 to befall them.

It has come as a particular shock to artists, online business operators and others that they would now be forced to pay fees to the business licensing board of their respective district or community to continue their activities (because not having a license commercial is an offense under law).

The Ministry of Labour, Local Government, Rural Transformation and Community Development sought to allay concerns and provide clarification in a press release on Saturday.

First, he recalls that the business licensing reform “dated back to 2014 and was the subject of an extensive iterative process that included extensive consultation with private and public sector stakeholders across the country.”

In its statement, the Ministry of Local Government said that no licensing requirements or fees would be imposed on street and roadside vendors and micro businesses. Business licenses would be issued only for commercial establishments that have a “productive footprint of 600 square feet or more – eliminating common areas and amenities such as parking lots, restrooms, storage rooms” and the like – therefore limited to supermarkets , grocery stores, restaurants and soon.

It clarifies that “acrobatics, peddlers, rides and other forms of entertainment are currently eligible for commercial licensing assessment under the current Commercial Licensing Act. This requirement remains in the proposed Schedule 7, but ONLY for the urban environment. For Belizean performers, fees to hold concerts, etc. are per event, decided by the local authority, charged per event (“day” in the legislation meaning the day of the event) and must not exceed $200. .

Indeed, the fees indicated in Schedule 7 of the bill are the maximum fees that can be charged, but the Commission is responsible for establishing the appropriate amount.

The ministry also notes that the current legislation does not contain a provision to grant business licenses to entities that have applied, including e-commerce operators, independent car dealerships, utility service providers such as plumbers, carpenters and electricians to satisfy banking and financial institutions. ‘ Requirements such as verification of source of funds for deposits.

Now that the bill is before the commission, interested persons can appear before the Civil Service, Labour, Industry and Commerce Commission during its session as announced by the National Assembly. The Business Licensing Bill 2022, once legislated, will not come into force until the next business licensing period commencing January 1, 2023.


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