MPs get answers on expenses and general matters from St. Maarten governmentt


PHILIPSBURG--The Audit and Criminal Investigation Department is understaffed with fifty per cent vacancies. Due to this there was not enough capacity to perform audits on rental cars, hotel rooms and timeshares, and the focus was on income tax, turnover tax and profit tax, government answered to questions posed by Members of Parliament (MPs) during the Central Committee session of last week Thursday.

The Tax Administration plans to perform audits and on-the-spot checks on the tax on rental cars, hotel rooms and timeshares this year.

The package of answers was delivered to Parliament by Finance Minister Hiro Shigemoto on Monday. MPs were given time to review the answers and to pose additional questions. Those will be answered by government in writing as well and sent to Parliament ahead of the plenary session on the draft 2012 budget.

MPs also learnt from the answers that not all casino fees are up to date "given the fact that some arrangements were made with the previous Executive Council. ... The matter is being looked into now we are country St. Maarten."

Dutch funding will come to an end this year and new partnership programmes with the Netherlands cannot be counted on, government said. "The intention is that after 2013, St. Maarten is self-sufficient and capable of financing projects out of our own financial resources. This is one of the reasons the Government is pursuing a policy of getting our financial situation in order."

A strategic vision of the relation with the European Union will be presented in the second half of this year. A framework of the cooperation with the United Nations Development Fund (UNDP) and an "extensive 360-degree inventory" of other possible donors will be compiled, together with strategies involving those donors in the further development of St. Maarten.

The Netherlands Antillean tax holiday legislation still exists in St. Maarten. The tax reform exercise also will include the evaluation of the tax holiday legislation and tax incentives in general.

Three tax holiday requests have been submitted to the Governor since 10-10-10. There are some 15 tax holiday requests pending; among others, from Indigo Bay Estates. No concessions have been made yet regarding the Indigo project, as this application is still being processed, according to government.

As for tax incentives for companies that hire more locals, the Finance Ministry is of the opinion that it is very important to strengthen the labour market for locals. However, if the labour market does not have the local expertise, then the companies may have to acquire the expertise from abroad.

"Training our local people to acquire the expertise needed for these companies to be able to operate efficiently as opposed to giving out tax breaks would be a win-win for all involved."

The claims of civil servants who worked for the Netherlands Antilles up to October 10, 2010, will be sent to the assets and liability division committee within the next two weeks. It was said to be "a long process" because information provided had to be completed by the ministry and verified.

Government further explained that the ministers' basic salaries remained the same, despite reports to the contrary. For the 2011 budget, ministers' allowances, with the exception of child allowance, were not known, so these were left out.

Those allowances – rent, car, telephone and personal – were applied in the 2012 budget after they were known. Applying these allowances increased the ministers' overall salaries, including the vacation allowance, which is calculated as a percentage of one's salary.