UP MP Grisha Heyliger-Marten.
PHILIPSBURG--The introduction of charge on international credit card sales, securing revenues from Air BnB and Vacation Rentals by Owners (VRBO), an environmental head tax and a sin tax on alcohol, tobacco and gambling are amongst a package of recommendations United People’s (UP) party Member of Parliament (MP) Grisha Heyliger-Marten has proposed to government.
She made the proposal in a letter dated April 25, to Finance Minister Ardwell Irion and Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs Transport and Telecommunication (TEATT) Roger Lawrence.
In the letter, the MP suggested that government considers implementing a charge on international credit card sales as an alternative to an online purchasing charge to prevent loss of business transactions on the Dutch side of the island.
She also suggested that government consider executing the motion of November 12, 2018, to secure revenues from AirBnB and VRBO sales in the country. Another suggestion is the implementation of an environmental head tax, which the MP said based on the current passenger volumes, can generate millions of guilders for the coffers of government.
She also suggested the implementation of a “sin tax” on alcohol, tobacco, and gambling and suggested that Irion and Lawrence consult with the Minister of Finance of Curaçao on his decision to implement a tax forgiveness/write-off policy that, from what Heyliger-Marten understood, has significantly increased tax compliance and revenues.
The MP asked whether her suggestions can be effectuated by January 1, 2023. She said in light of the handling of the draft consensus Kingdom Law to establish the Caribbean Body for Reform and Development COHO at the Parliaments within the Kingdom, and in order for Parliament to have a timely overview of the potential alternatives for increasing local revenues for government as part of an alternative to the COHO, she requested a response to her suggestions no later than May 31. This should include responses from Lawrence to questions 1-5 in her letter of May 18, 2021.
The MP said as she had indicated on several occasions with regards to constitutional reform, the COHO, and capacity building, the latter should take place with international assistance based on St. Maarten’s right to a full measure of self-government.
“In this regard, I also refer to the information I recently sought from the Hon. Prime Minister on the discussions between the four Prime Ministers of the Kingdom with the United Nations Secretary-General about St. Maarten accessing funding from outside of the Kingdom. The above does not mean that St. Maarten should not seek local options for securing its financial viability. On the contrary, I fully support the ideas as outlined in the “Path to Economic Recovery.” In my opinion, realising these ideas in conjunction with constitutional reform and the capacity building as referred to earlier, are the only viable alternative to any type of COHO structure for St. Maarten,” the MP writes in the letter.
She said the suggestions related to income-generating measures that could significantly increase the revenues for government, and can be incorporated in the economic recovery plan of government. She requested that Parliament be provided with views on the suggestions and estimated potential revenues for government.