Published On: Fri, Nov 30th, 2012

Tuitt grappling with NAf. 29 million deficit

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten - The Daily Herald reports that Finance Minister Roland Tuitt is still trying to erase a NAf. 29 million deficit from the draft 2013 budget. He hopes to have the draft budget balanced by Friday and ready for submission to the Committee for Financial Supervision CFT and the Advisory Council by early next week.

Tuitt told the press on Wednesday that the budget is "still encountering" a deficit. Government, he said, is looking at increased tax compliance as a means of cutting back on the deficit. This is a "realistic" method to boost government revenues.

"If we can continue doing as we have been doing up to this moment in increasing compliance, I think we can get a great portion of this deficit covered," the minister said. He added that adding some NAf. 10 million to next year's budget related to increased compliance would be realistic, because so far for 2012 government has collected some NAf. 6 million extra from increased tax compliance.

Tuitt again appealed to all businesses that are not paying their taxes to pay, because government will be giving some incentives to compliant businesses. One such incentive is for businesses that are willing to pay their back taxes before the end of the year, Government is willing to wave penalties for late filing/payment.

Another way government is looking at increasing revenues is via an increased tax on alcohol and tobacco products. "Rough" calculations show that government can raise some NAf. 10 to 15 million next year.

Government is also looking at ways to write off old debts within the scope of the law, such as "parking" old debts so they don't show up in the system.

Tuitt said he intends to speak to the casinos about instituting Turnover Tax (ToT) on that type of business. He is to begin talks next week with the casinos.

Government is also looking at collecting dividends from the Central Bank of Curaçao and St. Maarten as yet another way of covering the budget gap.

The minister said government is also looking at "privatizing" the scholarships. Annually, government pays out some NAf. 4 million in scholarships. If the scholarship fund collects outstanding payments from all scholarship recipients, the fund would become viable over time.

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