The General Sales Tax (GST) department has summoned the Opposition People’s United Party organ, The Belize Times, to court for failure to file GST returns for January and February, 2014.
When the matter was called up in the courtroom of Magistrate Dale Cayetano yesterday, it could not be heard, however, because the person named as the manager of The Belize Times, Marion Marsden, is no longer employed at the Belize Times Press. Attorney Kareem Musa, who is representing The Belize Times, told the court that there must have been some kind of miscommunication, because Marsden is no longer working for The Belize Times.
In the absence of Marsden, whose name appears on the GST court book, the matter could not be dealt with and was adjourned to today, Thursday.
But when the matter was called up this morning, Thursday, the GST prosecutor, Jacqueline Meighan, returned with the same court book, bearing Marsden’s name.
Meighan told the court that that is the name that the GST office has in its records as the representative for The Belize Times.
There was a contentious back-and-forth between Meighan and Musa, because The Belize Times editor, Alberto Vellos, had appeared in court to answer to the allegation of the non-filing of the GST returns.
Magistrate Cayetano asked prosecutor Meighan what he was supposed to do with a court book with Marsden’s name.
Musa told the court that it is a shame, and it is also unfair for the GST office to bring a charge before the court in Marsden’s name, when she has not been managing The Belize Times since 2010.
But Meighan submitted that the GST office had no knowledge that Marsden was not managing the paper.
Musa countered that the GST office could have asked one of The Belize Times directors to appear in court.
Musa further explained that the GST office should have made it their job to know whom they were to call to answer the charge.
He said that the directors of The Belize Times Press have not changed.
But Magistrate Dale Cayetano was of the view that the matter was not brought properly before the court, since Marsden is not the manager anymore, and he refrained from reading the charge to Vellos.
Cayetano adjourned the matter in order to give the GST office enough time to come up with the right name of the person to be summoned to court to answer to the allegation.
Meighan, before leaving, told the court that an additional charge will be brought against The Belize Times Press for $1,000, as they had failed to inform the department of the change in management.