Tuitt: Dutch Finance Minister disrespectful

POSTED: 03/7/13 8:44 PM

St. Maarten – Just back from his fact finding mission to the Netherlands, Finance Minister Roland Tuitt painted a less than satisfactory picture of his trip that was aimed at discussing the reopening of the debt relief program, St. Maarten new tax system, the cost of living adjustment and the island’s overall financial situation. Tuitt reported yesterday that Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem as well as the State Secretary of Finance refused to speak with him.
“As far as the trip to Holland is concerned, it had a positive side and a negative side. Before the trip we made a request to get a meeting with the Finance Minister and the State Secretary of Finance. Everything was going reasonable but just a few days before the trip the meetings were cancelled as well as other meetings with other departments within the Finance Ministry.
We found it strange but it turned out to be that the Minister of Finance gave a decree that none of his departments within his ministry should not give the Minister of Finance of St. Maarten any information and don’t have any meetings with  me.
Within the Kingdom we should have a good relationship so I find it disrespectful what he did. That is not the way that we should operate within the Kingdom,” Tuitt said.
The Dutch Minister’s reason for refusing to meet with Tuitt is that he wants the issue of turnover tax between St. Maarten and Dutch municipalities Saba and St. Eustatius to be resolved first, Tuitt said.
“The problem of the turnover tax has been created by Holland not by St. Maarten. It was implemented years ago and was also implemented on Saba and St, Eustatius. Leading up to 10-10-10, the tax system was changed on those two islands to a sales tax on goods. Why do you want someone who has a tax already to subsidize your tax by coming up with a new tax?” Tuitt asked.
Tuitt said that one of the main reasons for the trip was to make sure that communication between the Dutch partners improved.
St. Maarten therefore plans to send a letter to the Dutch Council of Ministers and Dutch First Chamber detailing Dijsselbloem’s treatment of his delegation.
During the visit he also met with members of the Second Chamber’s Permanent Committee for Kingdom Relations behind closed doors as well as Minister of Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk. He was accompanied by his Policy Advisor Xavier Blackman and Concern Controller Arno Peels.

Liquidity Problem

Tuitt said that he was forced to clear up some misconceptions based on miscommunication of St. Maarten’s financial situation.
Although the Cft had said in their report that St. Maarten could have a big financial liquidity problem. Tuitt said that he attempted to give a more realistic picture.
“I tend to disagree because the government is not hiding anything. We have a buffer of$ 46 million guilders. We financed the capital projects during the last two years to the tune of almost $38 million guilders. When the loan that we are working on right now is approved, then that $38 million guilders will come back. So we are talking about $80 million guilders that we have a buffer which some of that money will be used to pay off some creditors so that we can get some more money in the economy. We are still reasonably solid.”

An update was also given on 2013 Draft Budget that was approved by the Cft and is now making its way to Parliament. The final report is also being completed.

Debt Relief

St. Maarten is still holding on to the fact that the goal of the debt relief was not attained, Tuitt said.
“We also listened to the argument that Holland is giving where they are stating in their 2010 budget they made provisions for the dispensing of these funds. As the provisions were claimed they made the payments so they are saying that there is no bank account right now with the money on it that was not used.”

Action Points

In his meeting with Minister Plasterk, a decision was made to solve outstanding issues on a technical level. Reports will also be made and political leaders will meet with the Dutch government.


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