The governments of St. Eustatius and Saba formally requested a postponement of the planned increase of the general sales tax ABB during a meeting with the Ministry of Finance in The Hague last week. This writes The daily Herald. Commissioners of Constitutional Affairs Reginald Zaandam of St. Eustatius and Chris Johnson of Saba handed over a letter to the ministry’s representatives in which they urgently asked for a postponement of the ABB increase by two per cent points, which is planned for January 1, 2016.
This increase, which will be brought up to the level of that of Bonaire, will raise the ABB on services by 50 per cent and 33 per cent for the delivering of goods. “That means that the already considerable difference in the cost of living between Bonaire and the Windward Islands will further increase,” stated Zaandam and Johnson. According to the commissioners, the increase will be disastrous for the social-economic development of the two Windward Islands. They warned that the private sector would be forced to transfer the higher cost to the consumer, considering their “already marginal circumstances. “The cost of living, which is already unacceptably high, will further increase, which will cause more poverty among the local people,” stated Zaandam and Johnson, who ironically pointed out that since the 2011 agreement to increase the ABB in St. Eustatius and Saba in 2016 the “social economic circumstances have not become much better.”
In the islands’ opinion, The Hague should not only look at what has been agreed upon by law, but to also take the current economic circumstances into consideration. “An increase at this time will result in a deterioration of the social-economic circumstances, while the multi-annual programme for the Caribbean Netherlands aims to improve exactly these circumstances.” The commissioners therefore asked the Finance Minister to take the situation into consideration when political decisions are made after the results of the 2015 constitutional evaluation are known. They stated that postponement of the 2016 Tax Plan stood to reason, seeing the timing of the evaluation and the time that was needed to take a political decision.
The Statia and Saba governments will now await a formal reply from the Finance Minister. Zaandam and Johnson were in the Netherlands last week for a number of meetings, including a gathering with the Caribbean Netherlands EvaluationCommittee to kick off the research phase of the 2015 evaluation.