PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - “We’ve been talking about the simplification of the tax system for too long and bureaucracy is killing us,” says Leader of the United St. Maarten Party (USP) Frans Richardson, adding that it is time to stop talking and tackle the tax structure which puts St. Maarten in disadvantageous competitive positive. He also said that too much bureaucracy stifles innovation.
“Our tax structure puts us in a bad position to compete, does not attract investors and does not allow for mom and pop entrepreneurs to survive.” Richardson said. “We have the highest profit tax within the region. How do we compete and attract investors? With the ToT and other compliance taxes, we are also not allowing businesses to do business in a way that facilitates growth for the company or the economy,” he said.
Richardson said another deterrent to investors and investor companies, local or foreign, is the appearance of taxes that are not executed but are visible in tax structure documentation. “When an investor company asks to see your tax structure, they will see mentions of all sorts of taxes that might not be implemented now, but could be in the future. Why would they want to invest here or even calculate a return on investment when they are not sure what might come up in the future in terms of taxes. It’s a huge deterrent,” Richardson said.
He said the USP will present to the public its proposed changes to the tax structure, not “tweaking here and there”, but real changes to a modern tax structure. “We have a rolling ToT that by the time it reaches the retailer pricing ends up three times more than it was. We are not competitive anymore, our people can’t afford this as it makes St. Maarten very expensive for visitor and resident,” Richardson said.
In the same context, Richardson also lamented the bureaucracy involved in getting projects done in what he termed a “cumbersome system.” He said the time it takes for a project dossier to get from one point to the next within government system, leads to frustration from the people and investors who end up blaming the politicians. “Bureaucracy places unnecessary limits on the thinking and actions of individuals. It prevents new ideas, possibly for the growth of the economy, from emerging or even being considered,” he said.
“So the politicians, or rather those elected to streamline these processes, have to simply finally do so. Checks and balances are necessary of course, but St. Maarten has too many. A project has to pass through too many hands and sometimes it never gets to its destination. It has to go to the governor for final signature and I ask myself why? Why the governor if the people who were elected decided. We are not advocating to bypass checks and balances, but to refine. When a school need to be built and an infrastructure development has to take place and it takes forever, politicians take the brunt of the blame, but the system is too cumbersome,” Richardson said.
WILLEMSTAD, Curacao - According to Statistics Netherlands (CBS), the CPI-based inflation rate in Caribbean Netherlands fell in Q2 2016, whereas in Q1, inflation on all three islands had risen for the first time since mid-2015.
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – Civil Society Organisations (CSO) in Barbados and countries of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States have the opportunity to access financial assistance from the European Union, for projects aimed at enhancing the contribution of CSOs to governance and development. A call for such proposals has been launched with a deadline of 30th September 2016.
PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - The Governments revenue ratio to its GDP is currently below 23% and this is having a serious impact on the capability of the St. Maarten government to adequately handle social issues among other necessities.
ORANJESTAD, St. Eustatius – The Board of financial supervision Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba (Cft) met on June 27th on Sint Eustatius with the Executive Council and the Island Council.
PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - On June 28 and 29 the Board of financial supervision Curaçao and Sint Maarten (Cft) visited Sint Maarten. During this visit, Cft emphasized the importance of realizing the approved 2016 budget at the end of the year.
ST GEORGE’S, Grenada – At the J.W. Fletcher Catholic Secondary School in Grenada, 217 boys and girls have been making do with inadequate space. Teachers and students work together creatively to make the best of the eight classrooms, spread across two blocks. But this arrangement is not suitable for optimal outcomes in the education sector in Grenada; nor does it meet regional best practice standards.
ORANJESTAD, Aruba - During a visit to Aruba on June 22 and 23, 2016, the Board of financial supervision Aruba (CAft) concluded that the budget implementation is more or less on track concerning the statutory deficit limit of 2.0% of GDP. The Board stressed that the budget still includes financial risks, reason why it will be closely monitored the remainder of the year.
WILLEMSTAD, Curacao – During a three-day visit to Curaçao the Board of financial supervision for Curaçao and Sint Maarten (Cft) concluded that the progress in the public finance has consolidated. The year 2015 finished with a surplus: this happened for the third year in a row. A number of important financial legislative processes were initiated in the recent months and now it is essential to round these off shortly, as well as the financial statements 2012 and 2013.
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