The Chamber of Commerce together with the St. Eustatius Business Association met with the Secretary General of Kingdom Relations, Mr. Richard van Zwol, and Secretary General of Finance , Mrs. Manon Leijten. The topic of the discussions was the draft multi annual plan for Statia. Since according to the Chamber also other topics, such as taxes, have a great impact on the development of the island, this point was also placed on the agenda. The most important agreement that was reached is that the ministry of finance is going to look into the manner of implementation of the taxes on the island and how retroactively charging of back taxes and mandatory payment agreements are negatively effecting the small and medium enterprises.
Both Secretaries General also promised to look into the procedures of the labor department and the IND where it comes to the information required from the tax office for work- and residency permit request. Presently employers are denied the request when they have outstanding taxes or they themselves have an annual taxable income of less than 20,000. Both requirements are seriously hampering the operations of enterprises as they prohibit the company to bring in much needed foreign labor.
The Secretary General also promised to look into the possibility to eradicate outstanding taxes for small and medium enterprises stemming from before 2011.
With regard to the multi-annual plan, both Secretaries General agreed with the Chamber and STEBA that a consensus needs to be reached on what exactly the backlog in economic development, infrastructure and social affairs is and to put a price tag to this. The next step would then be to agree on how the eradication of the back log will be financed and on the time frame in which this can be achieved. All parties believed that this will require a period of at least ten or more years. During the meeting it furthermore became clear that there was agreement that to tackle the back log in a responsible and adequate manner, an holistic approach is required in stead of dealing with it on a project by project basis.
The Chamber is of the opinion that the meeting was quite successful and applauds the openness of the Secretaries General.
Press release Chamber of Commerce, October 9, 2014