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Knops hints at termination of liquidity support

PHILIPSBURG - State Secretary Raymond Knops (Kingdom Relations) has confirmed in a letter to Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs what was already clear: the Parliament has put continued liquidity support at risk by filing a petition with the UN.

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Knops: "Fight against poverty is the responsibility of SXM"

THE HAGUE - State Secretary Raymond Knops (Kingdom Relations) resolutely dismisses the notion that financial support for the inhabitants of St. Maarten is a form of suppression, racism and colonialism, as a petition the Parliament of Sint Maarten ...

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Mission impossible

By Hilbert Haar ~ If you are not confused enough yet about the whole decolonization petition and what it means for Dutch liquidity support for our cash-strapped government, here is something else to think about. First remember: the United People's...

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Emmanuel: PM must explain her position on petition

PHILIPSBURG - Independent Member of Parliament Christophe Emmanuel on Wednesday said that Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs must explain her position on the petition submitted to the United Nations and added that the Chairperson of Parliament...

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The country’s current tax system is a concern to MP Buncamper


PHILIPSBURG -- MP Buncamper, faction leader of the United St. Maarten (US) Party in Parliament, has expressed concerns with the country’s current tax system and the performance of the tax inspectorate.

MP Buncamper’s first outcry came in defense of the senior citizens, who’s income, their pension, from which taxes are levied. The MP intends to prepare the necessary draft amendments to the income taxes tax legislations to exempt taxing pension income or income based on previous employment.

The legislations requires much research, and as such will take some time to be drafted.

Another concern of the MP is the fact that the inspectorate continues to go after the same group of persons who declare their income, particularly the elderly with a meager pension income.

Taxes are collected from taxpayers who declare their income and, unfortunately, the tax office is not pursuing the collection of taxes from those who do not declare their income. This information was provided to the finance committee of Parliament by the minister of finance.

Taxpayers or potential taxpayers, who derive an income from renting their property, be it through AirBnB or any other platform, go undetected and untaxed. The law provides the tools to collect, but the inspectorate of taxes must take the initiative. It does not seem like an impossible task. If persons interested in renting a room or villa can do so via the internet, get the address, and physically find the property and occupy it, I imagine the tax inspectorate can find it too.

It is unreasonable to have the registered taxpayers carry the tax burden and be pressured, particularly during these trying times.

Currently, there is a dedicated Tax Inspector working on the AirBnB agreement, so states the minister of Finance in his response to my questions in Parliament, but will we see any progress even after an agreement is reached?

This is one of the reasons the Tax Reform must go hand in hand with the restructuring of the organization.

As many businesses and taxpayers were unable to fulfil their tax obligations during the lockdown in 2020, a postponement of tax obligations was granted for a few months.

The taxes owed during that period are still due for payment. The possibilities to obtain a deferral of payments of taxes owed are laid down in the “invorderingsverordering” (recovery regulations). The MP has asked the minister to prepare a amendment to the legislation to allow the Inspectorate of Taxes to grant more lenience to the taxpayer then is presently allowed by law.

However, collection efforts have been stepped up by the Ministry of VROMI, particularly in collecting outstanding “Erfpacht canon” (leasehold canon) and building permit requests.

The sharing of personal information by the Tax Inspectorate is another one of MP Buncamper’s concerns. Although the Tax Administration is not legally allowed to share information with other entities, such as the Chamber of Commerce and Industry and SZV, these entities are obligated by law to provide the required information to the tax office. This is to safeguard data security and secrecy of the taxpayers’ information. In essence important, but how do we ensure synchronization of data to improve efficiency and effectively? Here too we need to consider amendments to the tax legislation.

We have been informed that the tax office is currently severely understaffed by about 60 persons. This seems like a reasonable explanation for the need to employ more people in government, but will we find these people, are they applying to the vacancies, are we offering sufficiently competitive salaries to attract the required qualified people, these are the questions that this situation raises. The MP passionately believes we have many qualified locals here and abroad and we need to bring our own home to fill these vacancies.

Proper checks and balances are necessary, not just by SOAB, but by having the positions within the organization filled which safeguard those checks and balances throughout the process.

So tax reform is important to increase the tax compliance which should lead to more revenue, but improvements to the operation of the tax organization and collection policies which focus beyond the regular “easy target” taxpayers, will make a difference now.
Policies and Laws should go hand in hand

Philipsburg: Member of Parliament MP Sidharth "Cookie" Bijlani has expressed serious concerns that new policies proposed in the Council of Ministers can have severe consequences for an already ailing St. Maarten economy.

He said in a press release issued Sunday the focus should be eliminating some of the cumbersome procedures that the community is burdened with, such as applying for permits.

"Consider creating a one-stop service, so people don't have to come and go then come back every time they want something done within Government."

He said these are easily achievable and goals that do not cost a lot but will help rebuild the economy. Today many people are concerned that some procedures form an impediment to attracting foreign investment to St. Maarten. According to MP Bijlani, Countries such as Aruba has many top brand hotels, which contribute to them being able to have high visitor arrivals even in these difficult economic times. "If we take a moment to work on simplifying some of the processes to apply for business licenses, that simple act will lead to job creation and increased economic activity, attract branded hotels and create significant opportunities for our people.

He is also calling on the Government to look seriously at the systemic targeting of specific businesses within the community while leaving others untouched. At this moment, our goal should work with companies to get them to the standard that they need to reach, not to close them down. "When we close a company because of a document they paid for but we as Government did not have the proper process in place to print and hand to them, we are destroying the livelihood of dozens if not hundreds of people.
"I would like to see training programs put in place for inspectors and Civil Servants in general, but this training should concentrate on Customer Service. We are in an economy driven by the hospitality industry, and we must be hospitable to businesses if we want to be ahead of the other islands," said Bijlani

He also urges Secretary Generals and Ministers to do all they can to stop those who misuse their authority and abuse policies, as their actions put a terrible light on hard-working Civil Servants.
He was also critical of the proposed amendment of a policy requiring Dutch Naturalized citizens married to foreigners to earn Naf.3000 instead of Naf.2000 before their spouse can come to St. Maarten to live with them.

"What happens if a foreign national living here for five or six years has had a reduction in salary due to the pandemic and his residence permit is up for renewal, and the yearly gross is now less than Naf.36,000? What solution is there for such cases?"

MP Bijlani reiterated the call to have a better administrative process and said even Civil Servants complain about the overlap in tasks and the unnecessary lengthy processes that could be simplified to make everyone's life better.

"This is an opportunity to reset the way we do things, so it makes more sense, and we can make things more accessible. I believe in doing so, compliance in all areas will increase," said Bijlani.
MP Ottley: Petition to the UN is not a call for Independence

Philipsburg: Member of Parliament for the United People's Party MP Omar Ottley says “the 2021 Parliament has exposed the untruth of the so-called 10-10-10 and St. Maarten's autonomy, causing the main actors in that deal to "falsely claim that the March 9, 2021, Petition to the United Nations is a call for Independence."

In a press release issued on Sunday, Ottley asked, "If since 10 10 10 the past Parliament and Governments of St Maarten have been telling the people that we are Autonomous and achieved self-governance, why did it take the parliament of 2021 to discover that this is not true?"

He said those scribes of the 10 10 10 agreement should have told the people of St. Maarten the truth long ago that the United Nations had informed The Netherlands that it must complete Article 73 if St. Maarten is to be fully decolonized.

Article 73 stipulates that countries administering colonies allows them to "develop self-government, take due account of the peoples' political aspirations, and instruct the former colonizers to assist the Countries in the progressive development of their free political institutions. Article 73 also aims for these countries to receive support for their political, economic, social, and educational development.

"This Petition to the UN is in no way a call for Independence. We are simply finishing the job of getting full autonomy, Ottley reiterated. He said, unlike some politicians who had lied for eleven years about 10-10-10, we are open about the facts, and we welcome debates because that is part of a healthy democracy." On October 10, 2010, St. Maarten became a Country within the Netherlands Kingdom and should have received a full self-government measure if it had received full autonomy from its former colonizer.

"It is sad to see the same politicians lying again to the people of St. Maarten, claiming that they didn't support the recent Petition by Parliament to the United Nations for an investigation into Racial Discrimination and Injustices by The Dutch Government because it is "a call for Independence. The truth is the Petition uncovers your failure, and you want to distract from the truth." Ottley called the claim "a cowardly act to hide their failure."

Suppose St. Maarten receives a full measure of self-governance from the The Netherlands by finalizing Article 73 completing the decolonization process. In that case, it will address economic fallouts such as the one caused by the Corona Virus COVID-19 Global Pandemic by being able to broker financial agreements with better terms and fewer conditions imposed on the people.

Though he feels some of the accusations directed at the Petition are emotionally driven, he said the point remains that the perception of equal partners within the Kingdom is not accurate and will never be true, especially with the democratic deficit," said MP Ottley.

Another concern the MP has is the flipflopping on the liquidity position for St. Maarten and some MP's support of Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs in her negotiations with The Netherlands.

"It is amazing to see how the same MPs that criticize the Prime Minister for furthering negotiations with the Netherlands are now screaming over the liquidity support received from the same agreement that they ridiculed her for."

I came into politics and, in a short time, learned that yes, while we can blame The Netherlands for many injustices, it does not exclude our shortcoming and lack of transparency.

He issued a call to other MPs to "stop playing politics with the people and tell them the truth. Put the interest of the St Maarten people first and stop promoting mental slavery."
"Constitution being trampled on by the chairpersons."

PHILIPSBURG - Member of Parliament for the Party for Progress faction (PFP) Raeyhon Peterson has expressed his concerns for the complete disregard for the Constitution that is being displayed by the chairpersons of Parliament. MP Peterson was...

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Solid Waste Collection Contracts "2021-2026" Awarded ...

As of March 31st, 2021, the current contracts for the island-wide solid waste collection program will be coming to an end. ~ POND ISLAND - In accordance with article 47 of the National Accountability Ordinance "Comptabiliteit Landsverordening",...

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The answer is clear: Parliament opposes COHO conditions

PHILIPSBURG - The Choharis-petition to the special rapporteur of the United Nations has drawn widespread criticism, but the backers of this initiative - eleven of the fifteen members of Parliament - are sticking to their guns. But its proponents, ...

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Understanding racism

By Hilbert Haar ~ Let me begin with full disclosure. I am white. I was born in the Netherlands and therefore I have the Dutch nationality. I have not lived in that country for more than 25 years and I have come to see myself as an earthling. LOGIN...

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Choharis-petition puts liquidity support at risk

PHILIPSBURG -- The Washington-based Choharis Law Group has filed a petition on behalf of St. Maarten's Parliament to the United Nations in pursuit of its desire to complete the decolonization process. LOGIN TO READ MORE... THIS IS A PREMIUM...

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"Lack of political maturity in Parliament is alarming,"

PHILIPSBURG - "Disrespectful to the floor of Parliament." That's what Member of Parliament for the Party for Progress faction (PFP) Raeyhon Peterson had to say about the recent conduct of some MPs on the floor of Parliament. The MP raised his...

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Introducing St. Maarten's new dental hygienist: Esmee Bakker

By Terrance Rey ~ Esmee Bakker is an oral hygienist or what is known as a dental hygienist. She is 41 years of age, married and has two sons, 6 and 9 years old. Esmee is a new dental hygienist on the island of St. Maarten.

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SXM Daily News March 18, 2021

SXM Daily News March 18, 2021

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MP Buncamper wants crackdown on companies that employ...

PHILIPSBURG - "We have to make sure that St. Maarten safeguards its legal residents," MP Claudius Buncamper said during a Central Committee meeting last week where Justice Minister Anna Richardson provided an update on immigration matters. "What...

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'Ontslag met een smile'

Kabinet-Rhuggenaath na volledige termijn van vier jaar nu demissionair Van een onzer verslaggevers Willemstad - Eugene Rhuggenaath (PAR) heeft gistermiddag namens zijn kabinet het ontslag ingediend bij de gouverneur. Daarmee is het...

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Knops winnaar op Saba

105 Stemmen voor Lysanne Charles van Bij1 Van onze correspondent The Bottom - De oproep van gedeputeerde Bruce Zagers om op Raymond Knops, vijfde op de lijst van het CDA, te stemmen is niet voor niets geweest. Van de in totaal 446 geldige stemmen ...

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Binnenkort uitkering tegoeden Girobank

Dankzij renteloze lening van 170 miljoen van Nederland aan Curaçao Van onze redactie Willemstad - Een groot deel van de rekeninghouders van Girobank kan binnenkort een storting tegemoetzien. In de meeste gevallen gaat het om hun volledige tegoed, ...

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Saba Legal Desk starts back

The Bottom, Saba - The Saba Legal Desk has started back per March 1, 2021. Initially, the Legal Desk will function mostly digital, but when policy to enter Saba changes per May 1, Nathalie Tackling will again come to the island for...

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PM Browne threatens to abandon LIAT after pilot files...

The government of Antigua and Barbuda has threatened to end all support to LIAT 1974 Ltd if "pilots and those who represent them" continue to frustrate its efforts to salvage the struggling airline. Prime Minister Gaston Browne told Observer...

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Do we have a Pinocchio in Parliament?
Pray tell!
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The Netherlands restarts AstraZeneca vaccination...

The Netherlands will resume using the AstraZeneca vaccine after the weekend, following the European Medicine Agency's assertion that the vaccine is safe, health minister Hugo de Jonge has confirmed. The first vaccines will be given on Monday with ...

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Coalition formation process starts with VVD and D66...

The leaders of the 17 parties which won seats in Wednesday's general election met parliamentary chairwoman Khadija Arib on Thursday afternoon and agreed that Annemarie Jorritsma and Kajsa Ollongren should start off the coalition formation talks...

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