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Dutch Finance Minister instructs his officials not to meet with St. Maarten minister Tuitt over Turnover Tax

THURSDAY, 07 MARCH 2013

~ Disrespectful, says Tuitt ~

PHILIPSBURG–Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem instructed State Secretary for Finance Frans Weekers and officials in the Finance Ministry to cancel all meetings that were set with Finance Minister Roland Tuitt in February, because of the ongoing issue about Turnover Tax (ToT) in relation to Saba and St. Eustatius.

Tuitt said, as far as he was concerned, there should be “a good relationship” among the partners in the kingdom. “I find that it is disrespectful of the minister for what he did.” A letter about this matter will be sent to the First Chamber [of the Dutch Parliament-Ed.] and the Kingdom Council of Ministers with copies to other departments.

“I find that this is not the way we are supposed to operate within the kingdom. If we have a problem, we will look for solutions and we are on the track of getting solutions right now.”

Tuitt explained at the Council of Ministers Press Conference on Wednesday that all the meetings had been planned. “Everything was going reasonably,” then just a few days before the trip the meetings were cancelled.

“We found it strange. What it turns out to be is that the minister of finance gave the decree – let’s call it that – that none of the departments within his ministry should give the minister of finance of St. Maarten any information. Don’t have any meeting with the minister of finance,” Tuitt said.

The reason for this “decree,” according to Tuitt, is the issue of the ToT. The Dutch Government wants St. Maarten to remove ToT from goods intended for Dutch public entities Saba and Statia. The Dutch want their demands to be met before meetings can be held with St. Maarten.

The ToT issue and other matters are to be looked at in a technical committee comprising two representatives from The Netherlands and two from St. Maarten. That committee is to formulate and present solutions to the two governments.

However, Tuitt pointed out that St. Maarten has never levied ToT on Saba and Statia. “The problem of the Turnover Tax has been created by Holland. It has not been created by St. Maarten. … Turnover Tax is included in all the prices on St. Maarten. Turnover Tax was implemented years ago, not yesterday.”

Turnover Tax was also implemented on Saba and Statia, he continued. However, when the two islands became Dutch public entities, the Dutch Government opted to impose “a kind of sales tax.” This tax is levied at the importation end and at the sales end. “You created a second, so why do you want someone who has a tax already to subsidise your tax, because you implemented a new tax? If doesn’t have logic.”

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