Today’s Editorial: Still the easy way out

POSTED: 07/28/11 12:36 PM

The 2012 budget has yet to see light outside of the walls of the government administration, but the first signals that the island could have problems again with a gap between revenue and expenditures has come to light. Undoubtedly the prime minister took no pleasure in discussing that matter on Wednesday, but it is going to be a reality until some bold choices are made.

Ensuring that the division of the assets and liabilities is completed and St. Maarten can get its share of the total financial picture coupled with getting the Central Bank to send the revenue from the one percent foreign exchange to government’s coffers are all good ideas. However they are temporary measures that are easy ways out of a problem that no one really wants to face and that is the need to create some new taxes. This continued suck on the resources of semi-government institutions is to us bad planning and has no sense of truly finding new revenue sources. It smacks more of a lack of political will to truly generate consistent revenue.

Undoubtedly no one wants to hear about more taxes but let us be realistic as the country grows in responsibility, so too must people’s willingness to contribute to the growth, especially when it is to their benefit. We are of the view that people will not mind higher taxes if they get some service for it. We also posit that raising taxes may solve some problems. For example St. Maarten is congested partially because there’s no import duty on cars. Change that and the amount of cars may very well drop.

Also there are businesses that pay absolutely no taxes or very little and it is time for them to contribute more. It is hard to hear that the government will have to potentially squeeze blood from stone again next year, but it’s more difficult to think that the government still does not see that structural is better than temporary.

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