Finance Minister Ardwell Irion (standing) with some members of his team in Parliament on Wednesday. (Fiel Efenio photo).
PHILIPSBURG--Letters have been sent out to the various casinos operating in the country to pay up their outstanding casino control fees and licence fees.
The letters were issued between Tuesday and Wednesday this week to all casinos operating in the country, Finance Minister Ardwell Irion told Members of Parliament (MPs) during a public meeting on Wednesday. He was at the time responding to questions from an MP.
“We have now sent out seven [letters – Ed.] actually. I believe they will be hand-delivered to all casinos between yesterday and today [Tuesday and Wednesday], with the amounts that is owed, the agreements that we have,” Irion explained. “And they have a maximum of a year to pay up their debt in regard to the casino control fees and licence fees and still remaining current with their current fees.”
Irion said this is an area that had been neglected in the past. “When I came back from college, I was even told by a financial controller, actually, “Listen, do not touch that, you do not want to deal with that,” right in the Ministry of TEATT [Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transportation and Telecommunications] dealing with the casinos and the backlog there,” the minister said.
On the matter of business licences, he said: “When we look at business licences right now, we have a second task force now initiated by the Ministry of Finance working with TEATT on looking at this area also where we are also seeing in the current businesses there is already a backlog of NAf. Five million there so yes, having a balanced budget currently does not look real to us, but it does not negate our responsibility of doing what we have to do and not just saying we cannot have a balanced budget, we are in a deficit so we need a loan. No, but understanding that the government will be taking the necessary steps to collect the money that is due.”
On the issue of lottery companies, Irion said this sector has not been left out. He said government has started the process of collection from this sector “That is being worked on also. It is just that we started with the amount that we had already and the one that we can work on the fastest,” he said.