Plasterk demands action

POSTED: 02/12/13 12:14 PM

GREAT BAY / THE HAGUE – Drop the turnover tax on goods that are exported to Saba and Statia, stop frustrating medical emergency helicopter transport from these islands, lower Winair tariffs for flights to Saba and Statia and allow the landing the fiber optic cable that currently connects the two small islands with St. Kitts. That is the message Kingdom Relations Minister Ronald Plasterk sent to Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams in a letter dated February 8. The Dutch government published the letter yesterday.
Plasterk states in his letter that St. Maarten is charging turnover tax on goods that are exported via the island to neighboring Saba and Statia. “Internationally it is u usual to levy indirect taxes on exported goods. This created a double indirect taxation.”

The minister notes that the subject has been discussed several times since 2011. “In spite of verbal promises from your government you keep levying this tax. I regret that and I urge you once more to abolish the levying of turnover tax on these goods as soon as possible.”

Plasterk also addressed the medical emergency transport from Saba and Statia in his letter. The islands use a helicopter from a Canadian company for this purpose. “I have understood that it is the wish of your government to use a provider from St. Maarten. Currently (and at the moment that the search for a suitable helicopter was on) there is no provider in St. Maarten that is able to meet the quality requirements for such a helicopter,” Plasterk wrote.

The minister added that he had received information that the helicopter the islands currently use “is not allowed to fill up in St. Maarten and that it often has to wait a very long time for permission to use the airport and its infrastructure while there is no real reason for it.”

The helicopter is now stationed in Statia.

Plasterk: “this situation threatens the medical emergency transport and that is absolutely not acceptable. Because this endangers the lives of Kingdom-citizens I ask you with the utmost urgency to do everything possible to make sure that the helicopter for medical emergency transport is able to function normally in St. Maarten.”

The Minister furthermore asks Wescot-Williams in his letter to lower airport taxes for flights to Saba and Statia in such a way that they form a reasonable part of the total ticket price.

The Netherlands took a 7.95 percent share in Winair on 10-10-10. Since the transition, Plasterk points out, Winair has improved its organization, generated more revenue, adjusted its route network, decreases the frequency to several destinations and cut down costs. “This ought to lead to lower tariffs, but so far this has not happened. This is among other things due to the increasing airport taxes your government imposes. Because of this, airport tax is significant part of the ticket price. The high ticket price limits the mobility and the purchasing powers of citizens in Saba and Statia considerable.”

The last beef Plasterk has with the government in Philipsburg is the fiber optic cable. Last year, the ministry of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations funded the cable that connects Saba and Statia to St. Kitts, but to limit its vulnerability, it ought to be connected to St. Maarten as well. “In spite of repeated talks with representatives of the Dutch government, your government still has not issued the permit to land the cable in St. Maarten. therefore work has started to establish a connection with St. Barts. It is however still my wish to also establish the connection with St. Maarten.  I urge you therefore to make statement within short about the necessary permit, conform the recent court ruling.”

Plasterk ended his letter remarking that the issues he addressed “are decisive factors for the Dutch government in the relationship with St. Maarten. The Dutch government values a good cooperation with all partners in the Kingdom, including St. Maarten. I call on the government of St. Maarten to address these issues. Considering the interests of the citizens of Saba and Statia they are a reason for grave concern for the Dutch government.

Did you like this? Share it:
Plasterk demands action by

Comments are closed.