Pantophlet queries Shigemoto further before physically receiving answersPOSTED: 03/15/11 11:56 AM
St. Maarten – Finance Minister of Hiro Shigemoto replied on Monday to questions National Alliance Member of Parliament (MP) George Pantophlet submitted in a February 28 letter. The letter reached the Minister’s cabinet on March 10 and he replied Monday, the same day Pantophlet said he was “curious” about the answers he’d receive.
Pantophlet posed 12 questions in his letter. They related to former Netherlands Antilles debt payments; taxes owed by former Pelican Resort Owners; borrowing potential of the Government; how much is owed to Government in back taxes; dividend payments; and debt relief from the Dutch Government.
In his answers Shigemoto informs Pantophlet that former Director at the Directorate of Finance of the Netherlands Antilles is Jose Jardin is the person ensuring that outstanding invoices sent to the now defunct Government of the Netherlands Antilles are paid and that 1.716 million guilders has been paid out thus far.
The minister also states, “Since this is not an account of St. Maarten, no one from St. Maarten has insight into it. However, the SOAB is controlling the account along with the Central Bank.”
Shigemoto told Pantophlet that the amount the former Pelican Resort owners owe in taxes is confidential and he needs the owner’s permission to disclose the figure. He also states that the 1.2 million the new owners are paying in transfer tax is divided over several cheques.
Shigemoto could not state how much the island is able to borrow on Monday as research into the collective sector has not been finalised. Once it is then the government will be able to use that to determine the interest norm.
“After this process is complete and the information is available then this question can be answered. However, St. Maarten can only borrow within its interest norm as stipulated in the Rijkswet Financieel Toezicht Curacao en Sint Maarten (Kingdom Law Financial Supervision Curacao and St. Maarten),” Shigemoto said.
Shigemoto also revealed that the Government of St. Maarten initially owed the Dutch government 295, 108, 460.61 guilders. A bond for this amount was issued on October 21, 2010 to pay off the amount and the first principal payment is due in October 2020. The Minister was not able to state the amount in back taxes as some of the debts in governments are still assessments.
The Minister revealed that the 5 million guilders in dividend payments government projects will be coming from the Princess Juliana International Airport Operating Company and that no answer has been received from Minister Piet Hein Donner on the 40 million guilders worth of debt relief claims that were sent to him last year.
In a separate statement Pantophlet queried how much was left of a 60 million guilder amount that was aimed at paying debts of the Government of the Netherlands Antilles and whether there’s enough to pay off creditors here in St. Maarten. The MP has also queried the arrangement for the set up of the payout committee, specifically the appointment of a chairman. This is based on the “appearance of a problem” with how the appointment should be done.
“The Member of Parliament strongly urges the members to solve this problem of the Chairman of the payout committee as soon as possible,” Pantophlet said.
He also wrote, “Government has decided to grant Simpson Bay Resort exemption from paying the transfer tax of 1.2 million dollars with all the consequences thereof. He strongly urges government that in order to be fair that taxes owed by all prior to 2006 be written off.”