Member of Parliament and Faction Leader of the National Alliance George Pantophlet wants to know when the threats will stop. He was really annoyed by the press release that appeared in last Friday’s news paper of the Daily Herald entitled: "Casino operators association disagrees with fees increase". The Member said that before he got involved in politics, he heard and read about multinational Corporations impact on governments all over the world.
The intimidation tactics they used to get their way. Today he finds himself dealing with such institutions. What annoyed the Member of Parliament are the following statements and he paraphrases, if government increases additional fees on top of those currently paid it will inevitably force the operators to implement drastic cost cutting measures that will result in a zero or at worst negative effect on Government’s coffers. The Member of Parliament would like to know if these institutions are up to date with their Naf 25 million fees which date back to 2001 because this is negatively impacting the coffers of government. Are they willing to come clean and open their books to government as to what revenues were generated the last 10 years? He knows this will never happen. See the Pelican Resort saga. And don’t talk about the last 5 years because we all know of the Global Crisis that started in 2007. The association also mentioned the increase of these fees having a negative impact on the labor market as well as the economy as a whole. The Member of Parliament would like casino operators to explain to the people of St. Maarten what impact the short term contract better known as the 6 month contract is having on the labor market and the economy of St. Maarten. The casino operators association also said that the fees could tip the scale to the point where the operators would no longer consider it viable to keep open the doors of all currently operated casinos. Should the Member of Parliament then understand this to mean that these mostly foreign owned casinos will be handing in their licenses so that government can issue them to local St. Maarten persons who have requested casino licenses in the past but could not obtain one because of the moratorium? Why are they issuing these threats? For some 20 years or more they are paying the same fees. Not even this they are doing. And what have they contributed to St. Maarten? Social problems domestic abuse and you name it. The Member of Parliament said that the Minister of Finance Roland Tuitt did not impose the fees the way the former Minister of Finance did with the Turnover tax? Of course these casino operators did not complain because they don’t pay turnover tax. What about the other businesses who have to pay turnover tax? The threats have to stop.