Sint Maarten Government intends to double casino fees

POSTED: 02/9/16 7:54 PM

St. Maarten News: The government intends to double the casino fees from the current 50,000 to 100,000 guilders per month over the next three years. Finance Minister Richard Gibson made the announcement during the central committee meeting about the draft 2016 budget yesterday.

“The casino fees were established in 1996,” the minister said. “Those 50,000 guilders have never been indexed. In real terms we are right now collecting 50 percent of the purchasing power that money had twenty years ago.”

The finance ministry is working on legislation to fully index the casino fees. “We will not double the fees in one year,” Gibson said. “We will phase it over three years.”

The 13.1 million guilders the government intends to collect in payment arrears for casino fees will be paid this year, Minister Gibson said, adding that several casinos have already asked the receiver for a payment arrangement. It is possible to spread these payments over a period of nine months. The minister said that the receiver has written off casino fees that can no longer be collected because the last possible collection date has expired.

Another initiative to generate more revenue is through so-called precarious-fees that will have to be paid for placing billboards that are visible from the public road. The government expects to collect 1 to 2 million guilders from this measure.

“We have an old precarious-law that contains a fee of 25 guilders per year for a billboard. Today, wherever you look there is a billboard. If you want to be flashed a couple of times a day on one of those digital billboards, you have to pay up to $300 a month,” the minister said. “If your billboard is fixed to a building, the fee does not apply.”

The legislation that is currently under development will impose fees for all billboards that are visible from the public road, also for billboards that are fixed onto a building.

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