Economic indicators paint rosy picture of St. Maarten government revenue

POSTED: 07/5/11 12:56 PM

St. Maarten– The economic indicators for the year 2010 the St. Maarten Ministry of Economic Affairs, Tourism, Transport and Telecommunications released yesterday suggest that government revenue increased  by 11.6 percent to 237.6 million guilders, but an unexplained part of this revenue indicates that the figures paint a picture that is rosier than the reality.

Income from wage tax, rental tax and vehicle tax remained more or less flat, while room tax was up 5.9 percent and timeshare tax was down 11.3 percent. The big difference is in “other revenues.” This post went from 32.3 million guilders to 79.1 million, an increase of 144.8 percent.

In a summary of the report, the ministry states that income tax registered double digit growth, and that profit tax dropped 9 percent. The drop in timeshare tax is explained by the remark that “it can be attributes to many internal factors such as when the information was recorded.” There is no explanation for the increase in other revenue.

One of the key indicators for the state of the economy is the gross domestic product. Compared to a year ago, GDP dropped 0.9 percent, while inflation stood at 3.2 percent.

St. Maarten saw a 1.5 percent decrease in stay-over visitors, but the number of cruise arrivals crossed the 1.5 million mark, showing an increase of almost 24.5 percent compared to 2009. The island also received 10.2 percent more cruise ships: 551 in total.

The SHTA reported an average occupancy rate in hotels of 61.9 percent, slightly better that the 59.7 percent in 2009. The Ministry notes that the SHTA represents 79 percent of the hotel capacity on the island.

Requests for business licenses were down (from 1298 to 1010), but there were also less withdrawals. In 2009, 237 licenses were withdrawn, last year just 70.

St. Maarten issued 156 residential building permits, 11 more than the year before, and 37 commercial permits, an increase of 13. Other building permits dropped from 148 to 80, so all in all there were 44 construction projects less in 2010: 273 against 317 in the previous year.

St. Maarten electricity consumption was up 4.55 percent. GEBE sold 326.1 million kilowatt hours last year. Water consumption showed a 0.84 percent decrease to 3.4 million cubic meters.

An almost 4 percent decrease in the consumption of unleaded gasoline (from 35.9 million liters to 34.5) suggests that car-owners hit the road less often in 2010. Gasoil (diesel) jumped 36.6 percent, from 46.8 million liter to 64 million. Fuel oil consumption dropped 15.3 percent from 69.1 to 58.4 million liter.

Container movement in the St. Maarten port was up 6.12 percent. Incoming and outgoing container both showed an increase. The first category went from 33,371 to 35,289, the second category from 33,696 to 35,810. Total container movement was a bit above 71,000.

St. Maarten Banks reported a 4.8 percent increase in loans, from 16.1 to 16.9 million guilders; deposits were up 15.1 percent from 17.8 to 20.5 million.

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