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St. Maarten minister Hassink: 2014 budget will focus on cost control, tax compliance

THURSDAY, 26 SEPTEMBER 2013

PHILIPSBURG–Cost control in government and ensuring high tax compliance by residents are key focus areas in the compilation of the draft 2014 budget, according to Finance Minister Martin Hassink. The aim is to have the first draft of the budget handled by the Council of Ministers by October 15.  The Minister said at the Council of Ministers press briefing on Wednesday that these focus areas are “not a new story,” as they were also a factor in the amendments to the 2013 budget.  All ministries, Parliament and high councils of state are to submit their budgets to the Finance Ministry by the end of this month to facilitate the preparation of the general country budget.

The ministries also have to submit to the Finance Ministry the 2014 budgets of organisations and foundations that receive government subsidy. The deadline for this is also the end of the month.  As for the possibility of introducing free education next year, Hassink said it was up to the Ministry of Education to decide whether it can happen based on the budget limitations within which the ministry must operate. Each ministry was given a financial limitation within which it must operate, which was determined from historical data on the ministry’s income and expenditures.

The Finance Ministry will pay “special attention” in the coming year to the integration of the Receiver’s Office and the Inspectorate of Taxes. Hassink said his ministry was working with the Netherlands to tap into available programmes to improve the tax system, which eventually would mean more revenue collection for government.  A “small team” from the ministry visited Bonaire recently to see the tax system and software used there.

Hassink also has been in contact with the Finance Minister of Curaçao about working together on tax software.  Government has “started much too late” with the compilation of the budget for next year owing to the need to complete amendments to this year’s budget, he reiterated. Those amendments were approved by Parliament earlier this month.

Meanwhile, government has received the report of the General Audit Chamber on its 2011 financial statements. Hassink is to receive details on that report in the coming days.  The financial statements for 2012 are being prepared by the Finance Ministry with the hope of having them completed by yearend. If that deadline is met, it would mean all financial reports will be up-to-date and government can comply with all the deadlines for future submissions based on existing laws.

Source: The Daily Herald, St. Maarten

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