Commissioner of Finance, Bruce Zagers, returned on Wednesday after his recent visit to the Netherlands. Zagers elicited that he landed back on his home island of Saba with a sense of satisfaction regarding the short-notice meeting in The Netherlands. Island Secretary, Menno van der Velde was also part of the delegation who requested the urgent meeting with State Secretary Jan Kees de Jager.
Zagers stated to GIS, "The delegation in Bonaire did not have the liberty to answer many questions posed by the BES islands. It was obvious during the session that the issues needed to be discussed further on a political level. The delegation was instrumental in assisting the islands with the arranging of the meeting with the State Secretary in Holland"
"I am very grateful for the hospitality and the acceptance that the State Secretary has shown the delegation during our short visit. Although we had little time to sufficiently peruse all the underlying documentation in the fourth draft tax law, together with Statia we were able to bring forward the main issues. These main points were debated between the two islands, Saba and Statia, and at the end one document was created which was discussed with the State Secretary and his delegation." stated Zagers
Currently, the proposed fourth draft tax laws are still of a confidential nature which means that specific details of the meeting were not given to GIS during the interview. Zagers elicited that he did not want to compromise the process, as significant improvements of the proposed tax law have recently been achieved during the meeting in Holland. "In the future when the documentation is somewhat finalized, information campaigns by both the Island Government and the Dutch Ministry of Finance will be launched to inform the citizens of the Island. I can say however, that the new proposal has an obvious shift in direct taxes to indirect taxes, meaning that tax burden would be shared."
The fourth draft tax proposal is based on four main principles. The new system should generate sufficient revenues, but should be more or less equal to what is currently being collected. The new system should be simplified thus making it easier to implement and execute on all levels. There should also be a broad based level of acceptance of the new tax system. This system should stimulate economic activities on the BES islands. The foremost points which were brought up were centered on the four principles. It was in this manner that the delegation members were able to substantiate their arguments about their various concerns.
While in Holland, Zagers held a brief meeting with Mr. M.A.F Groenen who is a senior policy maker who is focusing on the dollarization process on the islands. Groenen, whom recently visited the islands, was unable to meet all the Government representatives due to the tax presentation on Bonaire. This provided a good opportunity to meet while in Den Haag, as both Commissioners of Finance were present. Zagers stated to GIS, "Different scenarios were discussed as to how we would proceed during the transition period before 2011 when the US Dollar would become our official currency. Mr. Groenen assured us that ample time will be given and information will be distributed to the population in as early as 1st Quarter of 2010."
Source: GIS Saba