Former Finance Minister Tuitt reveals: “Theonomics and Sarahnomics have cost us 100 million guilders”

POSTED: 08/16/13 1:14 PM

Roland Tuitt 20130815

Former Finance Minister Roland Tuitt: “Government refused to collect 100 million guilders from one taxpayer.” Photo Today / Milton Pieters

St. Maarten – Governments that were in office before the National Alliance led coalition took over in the summer of 2011 made a series of bad deals that cost the treasury more than 100 million guilders ($55.9 million), former Finance Minister Roland Tuitt said at a press conference he convened at the Turning Point rehab center yesterday morning.

While Tuitt was careful not to name any names, it is clear that he referred to deals with construction company Betonbouw, the now defunct consultancy company Taxand and the American University of the Caribbean in Cupecoy.

According to Tuitt “a Dutch company” (most likely Betonbouw) collected 1.7 million guilders over a 3-year period in monthly installments of 45,000 guilders for so-called mobilization costs for the hapless new government administration building on Pond Island. “Mobilization costs are paid to contractors for moving their equipment to a construction site,” Tuitt said. “Everybody in the industry knows that you can only have mobilization costs for one or two months, not for almost three years.”

The second case Tuitt referred to was “the consultancy that was hired to reform the tax system.” This company, Taxand had already collected 4.2 million guilders by the time Tuitt took office. The company sent another bill for 5 million guilders, but that was never paid. “There was no basis for the 4.2 million guilders invoice or for the one of 5 million,” Tuitt said. He added that the government accountant bureau Soab investigated the matter and sent its report to the parliament.

The third – and by far the largest – case Tuitt referred to has to do with the American University of the Caribbean in Cupecoy. “There was this huge transaction prior to the moment I took office,” Tuitt said. “The government was supposed to get 34.5 percent of the sales price, but it took only 10 percent.”

This seems a reference to the purchase of the university by Devry Inc. In the summer of 2011 Devry paid $235 million for the university and it promised to invest $20 million in its expansion.

If the government stood to receive 34.5 percent of the purchase price as Tuitt claims, it would come down to $81 million. Instead, according to Tuitt, the government collected 10 percent, or $23.5 million. The difference ($57.5 million) comes indeed down to 103 million guilders.

“This present government has refused to collect 100 million guilders from one taxpayer,” Tuitt said. If this amount had been collected the government would have had enough to cover the deficits for at least three years. Theonomics and Sarahnomics have cost the government more than 100 million guilders – almost 25 percent of the country’s total budget.”

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