Hassink drops turnover tax for exports to Saba and Statia

POSTED: 10/21/13 11:57 AM

St. Maarten – Finance Minister Maarten Hassink confirmed on Friday evening that he will exempt products that are exported directly to Saba and Statia of the 5 percent turnover tax. As Prime Minister Wescot-Williams indicated earlier, a request to help St. Maarten to the Dutch team that set up the integrated tax service in Bonaire encountered reluctance in The Hague due to the fiscal dispute about the two small islands. So far, St. Maarten refused to exempt exported goods to Saba and Statia of the turnover tax.

Hassink said in a broadcast of Oral Gibbes Live in Friday that the decision probably would not help the citizens in Saba and Statia, because the turnover tax is a profit tax. “Only the supplier will benefit from this,” the minister said.

Hassink wondered “why they say that it will take forty days to change the law. We are going to do it and we are able to do it because it does not make a lot of difference to us.”

The minister said that he will allow companies that supply goods to the two islands to deduct these goods from the turnover tax they owe, but that the government has no control over the price the suppliers charge to customers in other islands.

Earlier Prime Minister Wescot-Williams identified the tax-dispute as a possible motive for the instruction to Governor Holiday to conduct an integrity investigation. But other issues also have contributed to the rising irritation in The Hague. Among them are the joint border control at the airport, the use of a medical evacuation helicopter for the two islands, and the way St. Maarten dealt with the Coast Guard.

This latter point is no longer an issue since the premature departure of Justice Minister Roland Duncan who wanted to get rid of the Coast Guard; he once famously suggested that he did not need the Coast Guard and that he would be able to control the country’s maritime borders by installing some security cameras.

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