The 2013 Budget

Member of Parliament George Pantophlet says that just about one month ago it was said that a plenary session will be held during the first week of August when Parliament resumes to handle to 2013 Budget issues. The Member of Parliament believes that the Budget of 2013 which is long overdue (because it did not pass the scrutiny of the Committee for Financial Supervision) unless the process (Advisory Council and the CFT) is shortened will not be handled until sometime in September. To date he has not received any documentation on the revised Budget.

And when such happens he will need at least one to two weeks to study the amendments to it. It will then be discussed in a Central Committee meeting where questions will definitely be asked. Depending on the amount of questions asked and the response time it can take another week or more before it is handled in another central committee meeting. After this process is completed it will be debated in a plenary session where the final handling of the Budget will take place. The Member of Parliament has been following statements made in the written media but will await the actual documentation. However he is hoping that the burden is not placed on the pensioners, the minimum wage earners, the working poor or the middle class. He is hoping that legislation being worked on with regards to generating revenues by increasing taxes on alcohol and tobacco. (Agreed by the Committee for Financial Supervision) providing the proper legislation that is being drafted is finalized. He is convinced that these matters were meticulously studied by former Minister of Finance Roland Tuitt who assured Parliament that we would remain competitive. He is hoping that legislation to increase casino fees and lottery fees are being worked on. If according to media newspaper reports a lottery owner can offer 10 million guilders to settle a matter out of courts then the people should know that they (this particular lottery company) is making large sums of money and can afford to pay much more in fees than is being paid presently. And as the member always stated if this is not the case let them open their books. We should not forget the around 45 million guilders is sitting in a United States Bank. He hopes that the 25 million guilders owed in casino fees to government for over 10 years will be paid. These funds are very much needed for government to meet its obligation towards the vital institutions of St. Maarten namely; Education, Health, Law Enforcement, Social Services such as the pension fund amongst others. He already learnt that several after school programs will be affected by the proposed cuts. He learned that in particular one after school program where two thirds of the teachers will not be returning because of cuts this government is proposing in the Budget 2013. The National Alliance led government had made provisions to keep these badly needed programs running. He also learnt that the proposed tax write offs will be discontinued. This is unfortunate because this would have benefitted businesses and individuals as they would have had more spending power.