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Former St. Maarten Finance minister Tuitt urges current minister Hassink to pursue tax on alcohol, tobacco, casinos


PHILIPSBURG–Former Finance Minister Roland Tuitt urges current Finance Minister Martin Hassink to continue to pursue measures so that taxes can be collected on alcohol and tobacco as well as levies for casinos in 2014.

Tuitt had proposed taxes on these items in the 2013 budget during his term in office; however, these have been shelved by the current minister.

Tuitt told reporters at a press conference on Thursday that wholesalers had indicated to him that the additional revenue could have been generated without hurting the industry. He said too that while casinos “were not happy,” they were willing to generate additional revenues for government. He said some politicians who said these measures would hurt the industry seemed to be more versed in the business than those who operate them.

The former Finance Minister said casinos in St. Maarten are the only branch of businesses not paying turnover tax. “That’s the reason why I saw it fit to increase the fees that they are paying so that they can also fall in line with other businesses contributing to the coffers of government.

“It seems that the present government has put the alcohol and tobacco and levies for casinos aside. If you put it aside go ahead and make the laws so that the laws will be ready to collect this additional revenue for 2014.”

Tuitt said while the 2013 budget had been approved by Parliament during his tenure in office, certain laws were not in place and the amounts budgeted could not be collected.

The former minster said he, however, had a “plan B. If government did not fall then I can assure you that we wouldn’t have been in the situation we are in now because in the plan B the laws [to facilitate the tax on-Ed.] alcohol and tobacco would have been completed before June and I am sure parliament would have worked with us to get it completed and we could have collected half-year revenue for alcohol and tobacco and at least half year of revenues for casino.”

He estimated that some NAf. 5 million would have been collected from alcohol and tobacco tax and at least NAf. 4 million from casinos for the latter half of the year. If Hassink continues to pursue the law, it could be ready in time for taxes to be collected on these areas in 2014, Tuitt said.

Source: The Daily Herald, St. Maarten

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