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St. Maarten minister Tuitt: Budget balanced, submission to CFT soon

THURSDAY, 06 DECEMBER 2012

PHILIPSBURG–“We got it balanced,” Finance Minister Roland Tuitt said about the draft 2013 budget on Wednesday. He explained that government managed to clear the deficit of NAf. 29 million, and is now in the process of the final review before the budget can be sent to the Committee for Financial Supervision CFT and Advisory Council.
Tuitt told the press at the Council of Ministers’ press briefing that the deficit was removed by placing heavy emphasis on tax compliance. “All the companies that are operating on this island without being registered and paying taxes, I can tell you next year we will catch you, so you better start to do what you are supposed to do before that.” This is expected to bring in some NAf. 10 million.

Also helping to generate NAf. 15 million is the increase in Turnover Tax (ToT) on alcohol and tobacco products. The increase will only be on the retail end of the sales, according to Tuitt.

Government is also looking at increasing some casino fees such as the table and machine fees. An inventory of the machines and the tables in all casinos is on-going and government is working out the percentage by which those fees will be increased. This should bring in NAf. 7.5 million.

Tuitt recently met with the “major stakeholders” in the casino business about the possible increases. “It was agreed to that the best route to take is to increase the fees on the tables and the machines.”
Also being counted on is St. Maarten’s portion of the Central Bank dividend of one million guilders.
While government is increasing revenues, it is also “decreasing expenditures by 10 per cent on material cost, not personnel,” said Tuitt.

Government has been working on balancing the draft budget for several months now. One of the major issues had been deficits from the past two years. All seven ministries have been asked by the finance minister to tighten their belts, and that has led to the draft budget being very focused on the regular operations of government and less on new projects and policies.

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