10-10-11 has come to remind us of what we said we would undertake in the coming period. The first year has proven to be a very difficult time for the people of St. Maarten.
This is due in part to the global melt down but our government has not been true to the principles of governing. There seems to be a fear to make decisions that will benefit the lower and middle class of this society. This blatant refusal to act is considered by us very inhumane. The elixir of life is the Truth. We eat; we nourish our bodies, those are truths. We develop skills; we use them, that’s a truth. We cease to breathe, we die, and that’s a truth. Victimization could never diminish the Truth. As we mature and as our awareness increases we should come to love and appreciate the Truth even more. A while back when the Ministry of Finance in the person of the Minister of Finance, announced that there would be an increase in the TOT levied, society at large cried foul. The Chamber of Commerce gave their outright support with some conditions. According to rumors circulating, that same TOT sword is being raised to descend on us in the near future. The economy is very sluggish and the projected revenue is lagging in comparison to last year at this time. It didn’t have to come to this. The present situation including crime is a direct result of governments neglect. This neglect created deficits in the area of justice, fairness, joy and enjoyment. Allow us to expound.
Presently, the "Collection Ordinance 1970 for the Windward Islands" is the basis for the collection of taxes on this beautiful island of Sint Maarten. This Ordinance has many articles. Article 6 of said Ordinance has 5 paragraphs. Paragraph 5 was added to this article in 1994/1995. In those years Sint Maarten was crowded with many Dutch civil servants. You could find them in all departments. They came because Sint Maarten was put under higher supervision. That first batch of Dutch civil servants started the collection of taxes. The Ordinance was there but it was not being implemented. Once the Dutch technical assistants started collecting the outstanding taxes, it became clear that some taxpayers were really going through hard times. Paragraph 5 freely translated states the following: "Should the taxpayer not be in a position to pay the tax owed other than with exceptional objections, this tax can be partly or in its entirety written off, only in the cases and under the conditions mentioned in an Island-Decree. Not to cause more hardships for those taxpayers, the way out would be this Island-Decree. The Dutch advice was accepted which led to the Executive Council being asked to write this decree. What the Dutch had suggested was not far-fetched as our "Collection Ordinance 1970 for the Windward Islands" is based on the Dutch Collection Ordinance written in 1845. This Ordinance was used in the Netherlands up to 1990. In that same year a new Ordinance was decreed. As stated before, this decree was never written. This did not mean that the need for such a decree went away. What it means is that taxpayers were denied their constitutional and legal rights, the rights to live their lives with little or no interference from government. This denial continues up to this day, 16 years later. Government is the one who decides behind closed doors who gets a write off and who doesn’t. This amounts clearly to improper behavior on Government’s part. Internationally, we see the mess in Europe, especially in England, the Middle East where the ruling class is reaping the rewards of the perceived distributive injustices. The austerities measures announced and implemented, who do they hurt? The TOT hike for next year, who will it hurt? What about the non-compliant ones who raise their taxes the same way as if they are paying TOT to the government? Is this by design or is it a procedural flaw? Where are the measures taken by government to increase productivity? Where is government cutting back? In general, where is the critical mass being created to drive Sint Maarten forward? Government’s behavior has created a deficit as far as those who would have qualified goes. Perhaps some folks should start a class suit, not based on the criteria and circumstances but on the non existence thereof. Remember "Palmer vs. Palmer. The moral of that ruling was that one should not benefit from one’s own wrongdoing. Clearly government is profiting. Through government’s non-compliance taxpayers, especially those known, remain at the mercy of the ruling political parties. This doesn’t bode well when we look back in retrospect and see and realize how these deficits have been used to victimized, kill and shorten people’s lives. The Truth of this matter and of all matters is that what is done in darkness will eventually be revealed. Proper policies stand the test of time; they are like a foundation built on solid rock. Persons not known in the tax-system, the non-compliant ones have had a field day. The known ones did the same with the help of the 10 year tax holiday arrangement. Local business persons have been victimized, has lost all they owned and in the end forced to close up shop, so that other ethnicities could be given business licenses to operate here. In other words, with the help of our elected officials, officials we elected, foreigners are more than welcome to earn good money and send it abroad. Sint Maarten has been and continues to be prostituted. These business men of other ethnicity have gone so far that most of their businesses are in off shore companies. Capital flight is the order of the day whether there is a MOT or not. Was it not just recently that a trust-company lost its license for just that? Could it be an idea, a way for government to redeem itself by writing this decree that is pending and use it as a tool, an incentive to create critical mass to fuel the economy forward? What about all those entrepreneurs with taxes owed? What about the non-compliant ones that owes as well? What about having them invests that owed money in projects to help employ the youth and create activities of which the spinoff will stay here? This can be seen as a local investment. We are sure the CFT could buy into such a plan because the spinoff stays here and doesn’t go abroad as profit. Such activities would add to the wealth of Sint Maarten. As stated before many businesses in Sint Maarten have off-shore accounts and off-shore companies. Efforts should be made and incentives given to have those businesses close their off-shore activities. It could mean more activities in the Country. Should that fail then legislation should be written to decree it.
Failure to act is seen as favoritism. Country Sint Maarten doesn’t need favoritism but is in need of those who love her. She has been abused sufficiently. What was the cause of the French revolution? What became its slogan in the end? If you are called to govern, then govern.
John A Richardson on behalf of the Pythagoras-group.