Published On: Thu, Apr 5th, 2018

Crisis-levy not part of the discussion, Minister Ferrier says

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PHILIPSBURG – Finance Minister Mike Ferrier is not considering the introduction of a crisis-levy as sister-island Aruba had done by increasing the turnover tax by 2.5 percent to 6 percent. “That has not come up in my discussions yet,” he said at Wednesday’s Council of Ministers press briefing. “We are looking at other ways and means to increase our income.”

The minister is focusing on tax dodgers. “If everybody would be part of the system we would probably improve by 25 to 30 percent. There’s a whole lot of people doing business in our community who are not paying their fair share.”

The minister pointed to the countless new construction companies that came into being after Hurricane Irma. “They are repairing homes and mind you, we want those homes to be repaired. What we would like to see is that everybody reports and registers so that the government gets its fair share of the profits those companies are making.”

Minister Ferrier wants increased compliance, but in a customer-friendly way. “We should not be the bad guys, we should be a partner in this process. Every self-respecting community must realize that it takes taxes to keep a government going so that it can provide infrastructure, healthcare, social welfare and all the other things that come with running a government.”

The minister said that all the government is asking that everybody is paying hers or his fair share. “We don’t want to hit you over the heads with a 2 by 4; they’re hard to come by right now anyway. We want everybody to step up to the plate, see the tax office and report the lucrative work that Irma has brought.”

The minister also spoke about cost cutting measures; Prime Minister Leona Marlin-
Romeo pointed out that, though such measures will affect civil servants, cutting salaries has never been part of the options. Ferrier noted that all the lights in the government building go out at 8 p.m., that he considers buying smaller water bottles instead of the half-liter ones that are currently presented in meetings and that are mostly lefty behind half filled. He also wants to look at procedures around the repair of government cars.

“Right now I cannot tell you whether the drivers of these cars see the repair bills to verify whether the repairs have been carried out. Only someone in some department sees the bill and sends it to get paid.”

Photo caption: Council of Ministers during press briefing. Photo by Hilbert Haar.