about the landmark ruling in the court case against Windward Islands Bank shows that not everything that is considered common practice here in St. Maarten, especially after we achieved Country Status on 10-10-10, has a legal basis for it.
Windward Islands Bank (WIB) charges clients a 1% foreign exchange fee. This 1% license fee is what the bank has to pay the Central Bank of Curacao and St. Maarten (CBCS) in order for it to operate as a currency exchange bank. The bank passes this fee on to the clients. The court ruled there is no legal for this.
We also know for a fact that the WIB bank charges clients for the 5% turnover tax for its banking services. Is there a legal basis for this? We dare not say yes. The government has always maintained the standpoint that this is a turnover tax and not a sales tax and therefore should not be charged to the clients, at least not openly. However, the government cannot stop a business from raising their prices to cover the extra 5% tax.
Yet, here also we are making the assumption that the government stance has a legal basis as well. If this
WIB court ruling
has taught us anything is that we must not take common practices for granted.
Parliament has its work cut out for it, because there remain many legislation that still need updating after 10-10-10. On average Parliament has passed one law per year since 2011. Usually, that is when they pass the approval of the government’s budget into law.
Therefore, basically no new laws have been enacted since 10-10-10. Amendments don’t really count. And certainly not motions. Even if we did count amendments, such as those to the criminal and civil codes, we would still be able to count these on one hand for the yearly average since 2012 when the first updates took place in Parliament to the criminal and civil codes.
Parliament normally relies on government to take the initiative when it comes to proposing new laws and amendments. However, Parliament does have the right to bring forward proposals for new laws and amendments. But we all know the legal minds within Parliament are few and far between. The same goes new initiative laws from Parliament.
Nevertheless, we will be inviting legal minds in the community to email us their commentaries and opinion pieces on this
landmark court ruling
and the consequences for the banking community on St. Maarten, the precedents it will set and what our Parliament needs to do in order to correct that legal quagmire post haste. We will be studying the ruling carefully and we will publish our informed opinion on it as well.
By the way, our legal columnist, Cor Merx,
the Public Prosecutor’s Office (OM) in Curacao to just let it go after the court ruled against them in the Tromp case. They didn’t, They appealed! See the news below.
But the good news is, the workers of the post office didn’t let it go either and they got the government to agree to cover their November and December salaries. However, during a recent press briefing, Boasman, who is the interim Prime Minister in the present caretaker cabinet for the National Alliance-led government, mentioned that the option for the post office of the BES-islands of Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba, operated by the concession-holder Flamingo Express, to take over the postal services on St. Maarten was being considered.
Naturally, the post office operation in St. Maarten would have to be downsized in order to make this option viable and profitable for this private company. Yes, its a private company. So why not let private companies on St. Maarten also put in bids to manage the post office on our own island? How worst can they do than the government-owned PSS NV?
Certain factions in government want PSS to move to a new location and pay rent for this new location so that the present building can be demolished and a new building erected. The new building would be the proposed new location for Parliament and other government entities such as BTP, BIP and APS. Space in the new building would also be rented out to the private sector such as law firms and other commercial entities. But not to the post office. The irony.
Maybe redundant post office workers can be repositioned and trained to be prison guards in the new Point Blanche prison, as the same Prime Minister Boasman, wearing his Minister of Justice hat, announced that a new prison would cost $50 to $60 million dollars. He will need people to work in that new prison facility. But we are just dreaming for now. After all, we are gearing up for election time and anything is possible during election times. Maybe our St. Martin university might get subsidized after all as well. We are certainly keeping our fingers crossed.
We will be moving our commercial services announcements to the bottom section of this email newsletter to make room for the publisher’s email newsletter signature starting this December. With the success of this email newsletter and the number of positive feedback he has been getting, he now seems to think that he is that important. And no, he is not running for election.
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