St. Maarten asked to remove turnover tax for BES islands – Tuitt seeks reopening debt relief program

POSTED: 11/1/12 12:01 PM

St. Maarten – The government stands to lose even more revenue from unpaid turnover taxes if the Netherlands gets its way. Finance Minister Roland Tuitt announced yesterday that during a recent meeting with Dutch State Secretary of Finance Frans Weekers, he proposed to exempt citizens and companies from Bonaire, Statia and Saba who purchase goods on St. Maarten to export to the BES islands from paying turnover tax.
“In this whole process we will be losing some revenue so we will have to make at least a rough calculation to see what kind of figure we are talking about,” Tuitt said during the Council of Ministers press conference. There are no statistics showing the decrease in revenue this new arrangement may cause.
Minister Tuitt said that in exchange for removing the tax levy on the BES shoppers, he plans to negotiate the reopening of the debt relief program with Holland and insist that they comply with promises made before 10-10-10 to assist with the establishment of several key departments here. Tuitt said that he made this position clear to Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Minister Liesbeth Spies, who he met with following the meeting with Weekers.
In terms of reopening the debt relief program, Tuitt told Spies that “we will be taking this up with the new government that we hope will be installed by next Monday. We also discussed promises Holland made before 10-10-10 to help establish some departments that we didn’t have by providing technical assistance and also guidance. With these departments that were taken over from the federal government, the agreement was that either Curacao or Holland will help us establish those departments. However that never took place and we are still claiming that assistance from Holland.”
Tuitt described the meeting with Minister Spies as “positive and constructive.” Spies indicated that she was pleased with the way the government is approaching matters.

Although the meeting with Spies turned out to be a little less than a preliminary negotiation, Tuitt said that he was asked to put St. Maarten’s two demands, debt relief and technical assistance, on paper, so that the Dutch government can once again look at it.
In the meantime, Tuitt plans to look at crafting an agreement that provides a more “balanced package” for the island. He will be looking for technical assistance, as well, from the BES.

“We will have to see how we can work out the technical side. Since they have import duties in the BES islands, then they will have the administration there. So we will have to depend on their administration to do the calculation and the refunds. So that is the direction that it is going in for both citizens and companies.”
Weekers made it clear that the Dutch hope to have the new tax structure for its citizens finalized before the year ends.

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