Tuitt: South African trip helped St. Maarten

POSTED: 11/2/12 1:59 PM

St. Maarten – Reporting on his recent trip to South Africa for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes, Finance Minister Roland Tuitt said that St.Maarten received a great review at the membership meeting.
The Global Forum is the multilateral framework within which work in the areas of transparency and exchange of information is carried out by over 110 member countries. They all participate in the Global Forum on an equal footing. The Netherlands Antilles, now succeeded by St. Maarten, has been a member of the Global Forum since 2001 but when it came time for St. Maarten to receive a peer review, Tuitt says the country was well prepared.
“The peer review of St. Maarten was concluded and it was published. St.Maarten within the Kingdom got one of the best reviews as far as this process is concerned. We were the last country within the Kingdom to be reviewed and we looked at the mistakes and the shortcomings of the other countries within the Kingdom and we improved our process before the review was finalized.”
Compared to many large countries in the world, Tuitt said St.Maarten made an indelible impression. On Wednesday, he spoke about the importance of the review while at the weekly Council of Ministers press conference.
“This review is important for the investment climate. It reviews all of your legislation and tax policies that are in place and see if they comply with the standards that are set worldwide.”
In the meantime, the government will continue to prepare for phase 2 which includes the OECD’s evaluation of our operations. This process is expected in the year 2014. Membership in the OECD provides St.Maarten with support mechanisms and networking relationships to develop state structures.
The finance minister also clarified that he did not sign any treaties while in South Africa. He stated that it was only the negotiations on the exchange of tax information that had been concluded.
“Minister Tuitt didn’t sign any treaties. We had signed off on the conclusion of those negotiations. For a treaty to be signed it has to go through a long process,” Tuitt said.
Proposals for treaties usually go through a long chain of various branches of government including the Council of Ministers, Council of Advice, the Ministerial Council in Holland, the Parliament and the Department of Foreign Affairs.
Once a treaty has been approved by the constitutional bodies of the various countries, it is only then that Tuitt says he will be granted the authority to sign bilateral agreements on behalf of St.Maarten.

Tax exchange negotiations were conducted between St. Maarten and three countries; India, Costa Rica and the Czech Republic during Tuitt’s visit to South Africa.
Now that the negotiation process has been completed, St.Maarten will be expected to cooperate on matters such as tax evasion with the three countries, once an agreement has been signed.

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