Minister of Finance Hon. Hiro Shigemoto says he is available to meet with the Chamber of Commerce & Industry and is a phone call away to provide additional information regarding national financial, fiscal and tax matters.
Shigemoto who returned to the island on Tuesday from New York said he has taken note of the Chamber of Commerce’s comments made in one of the daily newspapers and he will be following up with them with respect to their public query.
"I’m a phone call away if the Chamber needed information or wanted to organize a meeting. The national country budget was signed by the Governor and I as Minister of Finance in the latter half of the week of July 4 into law.
"The Voorjaarsnota (Financial Overview Memorandum), another very informative document outlining the planning and direction of the country was widely publicized by the media after it was submitted to parliament near the end of May. There were many articles in the newspapers over a two week period, at least for the first two weeks of June.
"Thereafter, we had a plus 12-hour budget debate where additional information was provided and information from the Voorjaarsnota was also reiterated during the parliamentary session.
"The Ministry of Finance has been very transparent where this is concerned and we continue to work in developing a new tax system for the country. I will however, in the meantime send a copy of the 2011 national budget and Vooraarsnota to the Chamber of Commerce for their review," Minister of Finance Hon. Hiro Shigemoto said on Tuesday.
The Financial Overview Memorandum gives an outline about the status of financial affairs of the country Sint Maarten since 10-10-10.
Minister Shigemoto in his introduction to the 12-page document points out that there must be the will to work together and not work against each other in order to realize the opportunities that exist for the country and its people.
The Financial Overview Memorandum sections provide information on economic growth; informal sector, shadow economy; national debts and budget deficits; public service level and quality of life; dismantling of the Netherlands Antilles; the year 2010 up to 10-10-10; the period 10-10-10 up to December 31, 2010.
Other areas covered are: the first quarter of 2011; other (budget 2011, acceptable tax burden, interest norm, budget 2012); structural measures to balance the budget on the long-term; and closing remarks.
The Minister added that he was pleased to read that the Chamber of Commerce acknowledged its own shortcomings and was planning to become more active.
"The business community is what has contributed to the success of Sint Maarten. It is due to the entrepreneurial spirit and innovation that Sint Maarten is the envy of many Caribbean islands.
"We need to move away from the premise that government has the answer for everything and can fix everything. Everybody has a role to play and the business community also has a role to play as well. The private sectors hands are not tied and they should come together to see what can be done to help the Sint Maarten community," Minister of Finance Hon. Hiro Shigemoto concluded.
In the meantime Government continues to govern and deal with the issues at hand and put in place certain integral national development structures.
During the Mnister’s working visit to New York, he met with three financial rating companies such as Fitch, Moody’s and Standard & Poors. Government will select one or two of the financial rating companies which will then carry out an analysis of the country to give the latter a credit rating and/or sovereign country rating.
"This is important for many different reasons among which to establish country Sint Maarten in the financial capital world once the rating has been completed and published. A credit rating will open opportunities in the market for our country to attract project financing and debt financing.
"Once one or two firms have been selected, they will go through the financial figures and statistical information related to Gross Domestic Product (GDP), debt to GDP ratio, GDP per capita income and much more. Government is looking forward to this being completed as soon as possible," Minister of Finance Hon. Shigemoto disclosed on Tuesday upon his return to the island.