Shigemoto: “It is not correct that State Secretary Frans Weekers blames St. Maarten”

POSTED: 09/19/11 1:45 PM

St. Maarten – Finance Minister Hiro Shigemoto has said Dutch State Secretary of Finance Frans Weekers should look at how the Netherlands can reduce the tax burden on the people of St. Eustatius and Saba, without blaming St. Maarten. He also believes that the wider Dutch cabinet needs to deal with open and unresolved issues from the dissolution of the former Netherlands Antilles that include St. Maarten.

In a statement on Sunday Shigemoto opined that it was the January 1, 2011 introduction of a General Consumption Tax on Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba that had led to the major increase in cost of living on the islands, which have been public entities of the Netherlands since October 10, 2010. That change of status also meant that the inter-island exemption that existed when the Netherlands Antilles was still a country was terminated because the three islands are now part of a foreign country and have to be treated as such.

“It doesn’t matter anymore if an entrepreneur wants to export goods to Saba, the United States or even the Netherlands; the same tax regime applies. However, in the event that an export-company does not meet the criteria for the export-exemption, ToT will be levied on the goods. Apparently, this has been the case with exports to Saba and St. Eustatius. Because of this and the introduction of the ABB in Saba and St. Eustatius (6% on goods and 25% on cars), an accumulation of taxes has occurred,” Shigemoto wrote in his statement.

“It is obvious that the Netherlands has first and foremost caused the costs of living to increase in Saba and St. Eustatius when the two islands became Dutch public entities and an integral part of Holland. It is not correct that State Secretary Frans Weekers blames St. Maarten for not acting fairly,” the minister added.

Shigemoto has also said it is unfair that St. Maarteners continue “subsidizing of the cost of producing and providing electricity and water to the Dutch public entities Saba and St. Eustatius in this part of Caribbean Holland.”

“This point too was discussed with Minister Weekers, and although he correctly pointed out that is not his jurisdiction it is still a burden involving millions of guilders on the people of St. Maarten,” Shigemoto said.

The situation with Winair is also a bone of contention.

“We must also look at Winair which was primarily set-up to service the islands of St. Eustatius and Saba, and here again the people of St. Maarten are with the burden, and this too can be addressed by the Netherlands and the later needs to step up to the table now rather than later to discuss and resolve these open issues,” Shigemoto said.

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