Finance Minister Richard Gibson had some welcome news during Wednesday’s weekly press briefing. According to him, Government income for January and February looked “quite good.”

While the Minister failed to provide figures or specifics, he said both turnover- and transfer-tax numbers were promising. His statement was a far cry from last year’s message about the same period, when revenues for the national treasury were called disappointing.

Most people probably wouldn’t say the local tourism economy is doing better than in 2016, but fiscal receipts don’t always directly follow the average growth rate. Enhanced compliance, for example, may also be the reason.

The latter is important, because the impression exists that widespread evasion of not just taxes, but also social premiums still takes place in St. Maarten. Saturday’s multi-disciplinary inspections revealed that many workers are not even on the official payroll and consequently don’t contribute to funds managed by Social and Health Insurances SZV.

In some cases this seemingly has to do with their lack of a valid employment permit, but Minister of Labour Emil Lee again made clear that in principle one has nothing to do with the other. Regardless of their immigration or legal status, whenever a person is working the lawfully mandated premiums and taxes must be paid on their behalf, period.

What makes it worse is that some businesses actually deduct the part personnel are supposed to pay, but don’t report or transfer it to the proper entities, which comes down to stealing from both sides. As annoying as the controls may seem, especially where it regards so-called “grey areas,” they are therefore necessary to create a fair and just society with a level playing field for all.

Note to readers, advertisers and outlets

Due to circumstances beyond our control there will be no The Daily (or Miami) Herald this Saturday, March 18. The next newspaper is to appear on Monday, March 20, and the WEEKender supplement has been rescheduled for Saturday, March 25.            

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