The Daily Herald writes that Dutch Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk stated in a letter to the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament Wednesday that “even though it was always a theoretical possibility, a further expansion of the list of ABB exempted products for now isn’t considered opportune.” There are several reasons for this, the minister explained in his reply to written questions that members of Parliament’s Permanent Committee for Kingdom Relations had posed after their visit to the Caribbean Netherlands in January this year.
The Committee members expressed their concerns about the steep prices of consumer goods on the three islands. They wanted to know what the local governments could do to reduce the prices and whether there were possibilities to lower the cost of freight transport to the islands. They also asked about the possibility to expand the list of tax-exempt goods. Per January 1, 2013, a number of basic necessities where it comes to food were exempted from ABB.
In his letter, Plasterk questioned whether broadening the list of tax-exempt goods was an efficient and effective measure. He cited the consequences for the budget of government as a reason, but also the fact that the advantage of the implementation of the list of basic products that were exempted from ABB per January 1, 2013, for the consumer had proven to be limited. The high price level in the Caribbean Netherlands is high due to a number of factors: the limited economic scale, relatively high production costs per unit, the high freight costs and the limited competition, remarked Plasterk. Private companies decide the price of transport of freight to the islands. Government has no authority or other possibilities to influence the freight costs.
The Executive Councils, however, do have the authority to regulate the prices of goods and services through the Price Law BES, stated the minister. “The Executive Councils are authorised to set maximum margins for certain products and services. They have not or barely made use of this authority in the past years,” he stated.
The ABB, which is a Dutch national tax, is expected to yield 26.7 million euros in 2014 on the three islands combined. The revenues are not differentiated per island, as this is also not done per municipality or province in the Netherlands. The structural costs of the Tax Department Caribbean Netherlands for 2014 have been calculated at some 9.5 million euros. Besides the ABB, the department also collects many local taxes and levies.
Interesting! I read: “The Executive Councils, however, do have the authority to regulate the prices of goods and services through the Price Law BES, stated the minister. “The Executive Councils are authorised to set maximum margins for certain products and services. They have not or barely made use of this authority in the past years,”
On Saba Dave Levenstone is Head of the Economic Department. So it is in the first place his initiatives that can help reduce our supermarket prices.
I recall that, a few years ago, Dave had made a lot of noise about great plans he had to investigate and possibly control the price situation on Saba. After that we have not heard of any activity of the Economy Department. Probably as dormant as the Saba volcano. Maybe this is the right moment to ask Dave what he has done so far.
Please remember when taking to the head of the Economic Department or any other government worker or someone working in public services,that you and I are paying their salaries. It is OUR money they are spending.
When the prices in the supermarket are high because our officials are not doing what they can, we pay double: high prices in the supermarket and their salaries. Maybe we should get a third job?
The Executive Council is not authorized to set maximum margins, as stated above.
According the Price Law BES art. 2, 1a, the Executive Council can set a maximum (and minimum) selling price.
That is something different.
Just to refresh the memory:
Grocery price comparison to start on April 1
By Xallers on March 13, 2012
Note from the Editor:
The article below has raised some discussion in the community. The head of the Bureau of Economic Affairs. Mr. Dave Levenstone, was so kind as to allow us to publish the English version of the law concerned: “Price Act BES”. You can click HERE to read this law.
Starting April 1, businesses in Saba may expect inspections on the pricing of merchandise sold. The Executive Council has established a Bureau of Economic Affairs, which will become operational and will carry out price comparisons from the beginning of next month. The price comparisons will be carried out on “non-governmental control items” at all supermarkets and groceries, a document issued Friday, March 9, by Acting Lt. Governor Roy Smith and Acting Island Secretary Raquel Granger stated.
Dave Levenstone has been appointed to carry out this duty. The document alerts business owners that Levenstone “will start to pay your place of business a visit in order for him to start preparing the list and recording the prices of the various products which will be made public.”
While the wider goals of the new bureau and the job descriptions of the positions to be filled are still to be clarified, the mentioned role of the Bureau “is the intention of the Executive Council to also issue a list of items that are being sold, that fall directly under price control regulations.”
The document requests “the fullest cooperation” of business owners. They were provided with a copy of the Price Act BES, which went into effect on February 24, 2011.
Source: “The Daily Herald” 2012-03-13