Published On: Fri, Jan 18th, 2013

Schotte: ‘Budget is only a reprieve’

WILLEMSTAD – The Hodge-cabinet chooses to increase the taxes and to shelve the adjustment of the pension system and the reforms in the health service. Chairman of the parliamentary party MFK, Gerrit Schotte stated this at the beginning of the discussion on the draft budget in the Parliament. Schotte severely criticized the government’s decision to increase the sales tax (ob) on certain products and services to 9 percent per March 1st. This measure will affect the tourism on Curaçao the most, said the MFK-leader. Schotte criticized the budget and the plans announced by the Hodge-cabinet, but severely criticized the government’s intention to increase the sales tax from 6 to 9 percent per March 1st for luxury goods and products that are harmful for the environment and the public health. The MFK-leader started his speech by commending Hodge, who succeeded in bringing about a change as director of the PSB Bank, but on the other hand he criticized the premier for daring not to send an economic analysis tot the Parliament regarding the announced sales tax differentiation. He also criticized the fact that the Social Economic Council (SER) hadn’t given its opinion on the proposal yet.

The MFK-leader mentioned all products, which will fall under the new sales tax, according to the draft, namely alcohol, cosmetics, bijouterie, boats/ships, cars, computers, soft drinks, make-up, mobile telephones, perfume, and recreational and tourist spending. Schotte was not pleased at all that the government wants to charge a higher sales tax for computers, laptops and tablets, considering these are very important for the education. He also criticized the impact on tourism. Schotte wasn’t pleased either about the Parliament yet to receive the proposals on adjusting the pension system and the introduction of the basic medical insurance. “The Wiels/Hodge-cabinet is going to increase the taxes and shelve the structural measures. In other words: this is only a reprieve.”

Also PAR parliamentarian Zita Jesus-Leito expressed her concern that the announced reforms remained forthcoming. She calculated out loud that this costs the Curaçao community 1 million guilders per day. Jesus-Leito thinks it would be better to use this amount to invest in education, the public transport and other projects currently deserving attention. “We therefore want to know from the government if this is a realistic budget and if and how this will contribute to the development of the island.”

Jesus-Leito also stated many people on Curaçao are very concerned about the budget that is up for discussion this morning. “Many people are afraid. It regards the elderly, the pensioners, persons drawing an allowance and the weak in the society. They are worried about what’s going to happen next. It is up to the government to provide clarity.” Jesus-Leito also requested the government for a list of all measures that it intends to introduce.

‘Siman di tumba’

MFK-member Gerrit Schotte was not pleased that the meeting week of the Parliament was moved up one week for the discussion on the budget. According to the original schedule, there were no meetings scheduled for this week and yet the meeting on the budget was convened for this week. Schotte wondered whether moving up the meeting had something to do with the Tumba-festival next week. Schotte invariably described the coalition this morning as ‘the Wiels/Hodge-cabinet supported by the parties PS, Pais, PNP and the one who took along the seat from the PAR’.

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