Pantophlet renews dividend quest

POSTED: 06/4/12 1:46 PM

St. Maarten – National Alliance Member of Parliament George Pantophlet has praised the National Alliance/Democratic Party/I-3 government for “hitting the ground running”. He’s credited the government with the recent 24 (guilder) cents reduction in the price of gasoline and stated that “future plans to deal with the propane gas and Gebe fuel clauses are on stream.”
Pantophlet also stated Sunday that he is looking forward to stricter controls on the prices in supermarkets. He considers this and adjustments to fuel and electricity prices essential components in a strategy to increase purchasing power.
The National Alliance MP also announced Sunday that he wants to meet Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transportation and Telecommunication Romeo Pantophlet soon after he returns to discuss adding more items to the list of basic food items that the government sets prices on. The meeting will also include queries about the status of establishing the Gaming Control Board.
Pantophlet has already met with Finance Minister Roland Tuitt on a range of issues, including having government owned companies pay dividends to government. Pantophlet said former Finance Minister Hiro Shigemoto had pledged to establish a committee to look into the matter, but this never materialized. Tuitt has now assured that the committee will be set up.
“Just recently in a report the Board for financial supervision (Cft) had stated that based on the last financial reports of the government owned companies, they are healthy and they see no reason why these government owned companies can’t contribute by paying dividends into the government coffers. To be clear this will be in addition to the concession fees already being paid by some of these companies,” Pantophlet stated in a release.
The National Alliance MP and Tuitt also discussed the procedure for collecting taxes. Pantophlet is concerned that government can withhold one third of a person’s salary – even without informing them beforehand – and plans to file an amendment.
“The right to withhold the taxes owed is no problem but the person should be informed beforehand. I can imagine what happens to the people who are confronted with this and especially those in the low income bracket,” Pantophlet said.
The MP and finance minister also discussed the nearly 26 million guilders (25.9) in outstanding casino fees. Court cases are apparently ongoing but the MP thinks it unfair that casinos can get away with not paying the fees while regular people – including pensioners – are made to pay their taxes.
Pantophlet also has a lingering concern about the country’s share in the gold reserves held by the Central Bank of Curacao and St. Maarten. The MP and minister did not cover this point in their meeting.
“St. Maarten needs to know that its share is secured. Telling us it is there is not enough. We need to see it,” the MP said.
The meeting with Tuitt is one of several that Pantophlet wants to have with the ministers as schedules on both sides allow.

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