In a joint press conference of the Executive Council and the National Representative held today, Commissioner of Economic Affairs, Chris Johnson, expressed the Executive Council’s opposition to the implementation of a new software system called ASYCUDA which is to be introduced by customs to facilitate the processing of goods imported into the island. The new software which is to be implemented at the beginning of next year has been presented to owners of various businesses on the island in seminars over the recent weeks.
The commissioner said that the Executive Councils of both Saba and St. Eustatius had stated their disagreement with the new system when they met with the customs officials when they were in Bonaire, for discussions on price controls, last week and were “unified” in their opposition. He alluded to the fact that if the new system were to be implemented as is “it would have an adverse effect” on the recently negotiated fiscal measures that were agreed on in the recently concluded Executive Consultations that took place in The Hague last month.
This system is already in place in Bonaire, but the Executive Council believes that because of small scale of Saba and St. Eustatius, given the number of supermarkets, restaurants and other businesses it is not suited to the needs of the business community here. Several businesses have approached the Executive Council to voice their concerns on the matter.
The ASYCUDA system the commissioner explained may require the use of a broker, where by the broker pays import taxes for the merchant and the merchant reimburses the broker and also pays a fee for the services rendered. Otherwise the business owner would have to process the paper work themselves which places an undue administrative burden on the business owners and would hamper the ability of businesses to lower taxes.
Commissioner Johnson also stated that to implement the ASYCUDA system “goes against the wishes of State Secretary of Finance, Frans Weekers” to alleviate the economic burden of the people of these islands.
Source: GIS Saba, November 13, 2012