St. Maarten Tax office recruits in the Netherlands

PHILIPSBURG, 16 JANUARY 2012 – Understaffing by more than 40% has forced the tax inspectorate to recruit professionals from the Netherlands. The head of the tax office, drs. Geert Bergsma, said that his department is working hard to bring more revenue for the St. Maarten government but a manpower shortage could affect their plans. “Together with the St. Maarten Ministry of Finance, we are working with the Dutch authorities to fill certain key positions and to see if they will sign contracts to work here.”

Bergsma added that it is not the ideal situation for Country Sint Maarten to have to import labor for the civil service but it is necessary. “Our aim is to have as many local people as possible, so I don’t like the idea that we have to get people from Curacao or the Netherlands but for the time being it is necessary…strengthening of our staff is very important.”

Within the next three weeks, employees of the tax office will visit the Netherlands for orientation meetings with their new Dutch colleagues. “Our faces are already on their website but we need to familiarize them with our tax administration system, and how to live and work in St. Maarten; they are also very interested in our hospital facilities,” Bergsma said.

The tax administration consists of the receiver’s office, the inspectorate of taxes and the criminal investigation department and the General Audit Chamber. Students returning from the Netherlands in December are also expected to take up appointments in one of three departments. It is unclear how much money this type of capacity building will cost but Bergsma explained that elimination of backlogs and the completion of several projects are integral to the tax office establishing a new identity.

Once the capacity is increased, the management team hopes that it will stand firmly on three pillars; compliancy, information communication technologies and a new tax system in 2013. “We definitely need to broaden the base of taxpayers to ensure that everybody pays her or his fair share. We will also introduce a new system based on efficiency, fairness, simplicity and predictability,” Bergsma said.

The tax administration is currently developing a website to provide information to the public.