By: Roland Tuitt, MBA, CPA
The SER is an advisory council and not a higher council of state that gives requested and unrequested advises to government. Recently the SER has let government use it for political reasons during the last elections and it published the report recently.
The write off of the taxes prior to 2006 is well documented and thought out and is based on sound advises.
1. The Parliament of St. Maarten passed two motions requesting that the amounts prior to 2006 be written off.
2. The CFT, SOAB and Audit Chamber have made comments about those old amounts in their reports.
3. In the financial statements of the government of St. Maarten those amounts are written off yearly. A provision is made for about 90% of the amounts in the accounting system.
4. Common sense tells you that f 4.4 billion is a ridiculous amount to have in your system since the GPD of St. Maarten is about f 1.2 billion yearly. That means that you have collectibles of 4 times the entire economy of St. Maarten. Total nonsense.
5. Writing off those amounts decreases the possibility of fraud.
6. Since those bills take up a lot of space in the computer system, they slow down the system and makes the service to the community ineffective.
7. In the last few years less than 1% was collected on the outstanding amounts.
8. It is proven scientifically that amounts older than 5 years are difficult to collect. Why waste time on old bills when there are new ones to be collected.
9. The relief was given to give an impulse to the economy. Individuals and businesses can use that money to make investments and purchases thus giving the economy a needed boost.
10. The law was made and signed prior to the fall of the government. However, I made sure it was published before I left office. Thus it was published in May 2013 and became law. No one should pay any of those taxes that are prior to 2007. Thus 2006 and older. A Ministerial Decree is a law and there should be no discussions about that.
The SER conclusion that the old amounts should be collected does not have any basis and is worthless. It was not based on evidence nor did they have the decency to contact the former minister of finance to verify their findings. Thus they were used as a political football and complied.
The Today newspaper also did not do their research before jumping to their conclusion of criminal intent. However, they rectified the following day with a more balanced article.
What should be investigated is the fact that the receiver is breaking the law by issuing a directive to its employees to collect the written off amounts prior to 2006. That is breaking the law in accordance with the LMA.