On March 13th, the Prime Minister announced that the social fee charged by the Free Zone Administration at the Commercial Free Zone at the Santa Elena Border in Corozal District would be going up as part of the new measures to generate over $88 million in revenue for the Government.
This week, reports in the Mexican press note that the cost for Mexicans to enter the Commercial Free Zone has increased by 50%, from 10 Mexican pesos to 15 Mexican pesos.
In a report published online on El Quintana Roo.com, the publishers lament the decision for the increase in the entry fee. It notes that the Zone already depends totally on the purchasing power of Mexican nationals, therefore, the increase in the cost to access the Zone came as a surprise. [quote] “Now we have to pay more to spend our money there” [end quote] was one quote from a visitor to the zone.
The report notes that on a daily basis up to 500 vehicles enter the Zone to carry out commerce. It adds that during the busy commercial season that number increases up to 5 times.
The report also complains about the state of infrastructure within the duty-free commercial area. We understand that to remedy this, the Free Zone has launched an infrastructure development project with proceeds from a bond it sold to investors. This, after a request funding of $3 million from the Social Security Board had been rejected in early 2016. The Chairman of the SSB Investment Committee Doug Singh explained in media interviews that they could not support the project because in his words, the Free Zone is dying.
According to reports, the Zone attracts up to $350 million in revenue annually. The report on the Mexican media complains that in comparison, Belizeans spend about $50 million.
We attempted to contact an official from the Free Zone’s Board, Administration or Business representatives for comment, but our efforts were not successful.